With Mobile Technology Vodafone and the U.N. Improve Health in Brazil’s Remote Communities

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Vodafone Foundation and the United Nations are working together again on a mobile initiative for social good–this time in Brazil and with an eye on mobile technology for public health.

Announced at this week’s Mobile World Congress, the new initiative will assess potential ways of connecting indigenous communities in remote areas of Brazil with health information, such as vaccination scheduling and maternal health guidelines. The effort is a public-private partnership between the U.N., Vodafone, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Brazilian government, and the mHealth Alliance.

“In many of the world’s most remote regions, mobile networks are now connecting communities to information and services at an unprecedented level, providing opportunities to deliver health benefits to traditionally underserved populations,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. “This collaboration with the Vodafone Foundation, PAHO and the Brazilian Ministry of Health will focus on one community to determine how wireless communications can be used to improve health outcomes in some of Brazil’s hardest to reach communities.”

For Vodafone, the partnership is likely to offer more than just a corporate social responsibility (CSR) boost–untapped communities represent potential new customers and research in the name of CSR can often double as consumer research for an emerging market. Fast Company previously interviewed Mobile Metrix founder Melanie Edwards, who is placing mobile phones in the hands of low-income Brazilian youth to collect consumer research data, which simultaneously provides the youth with employment.

But the potential health benefits are significant, and innovations in mobile technology have been piloted extensively in other parts of the world as potential solutions to health information gaps.

Source: Fast Company (link opens in a new window)