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"SMS for Life" now live in 139 health facilities in three districts in Tanzania
On the 24th of September 2009, the SMS for Life team arrived in Dar-es-Salaam to begin a month-long journey through Tanzania to kick off the SMS for Life Pilot. The purpose of the trip was twofold - to train health workers from each health facility in the three chosen pilot districts on how to send stock count text messages and to train the district managers on using the system to view stock information and take appropriate action.
District training kicked off in Lindi on the 28th of September, with Ulanga and Kigoma being trained over the subsequent weeks, with a total of 120 health workers being trained.
The trainings started with a formal greeting of the district elderly. The health worker training sessions consisted of a combination of both a power point presentation and a live scenario workshop.
The success of the training was confirmed within a week when almost all trained facilities submitted data. In Lindi, 95% of trained health facilities submitted their stock count data on the Thursday/Friday before the cut-off time for receiving airtime credit. More importantly, these text messages have allowed for the first time in Tanzania the timely visibility of the stock levels of life-saving anti-malarials at health post level. While in Lindi 27 out of 46 Health Facilities reported a stock-out of at least one type of Coartem, in Kigoma out of 56 submissions of data, 53 facilities reported a stock-out of almost everything.
The SMS for Project team will continue to pay surveillance visits to each rural health facility, working together with the District Medical Officers and Malaria Focal persons to cross check inventory levels with the reports received and ensure there are no technical problems with the SMS for Life program or knowledge gaps in the reporting system. It is hoped the early successes highlighted above will continue and that this pilot "is only the beginning of the broad spectrum of positive change that SMS for Life can provide to Tanzania and greater Africa" says Mike Lazarovits, Novartis Canada, SMS for Life Project Member.