HARARE – Econet Wireless yesterday launched a new product, Dial-A-Doc, aimed at providing health tips to people in emergency situations.
The product, which is spearheaded by Econet Health, a subsidiary of the mobile telecommunications giant, allows clients to receive emergency health information directly from doctors anytime if they dial 147 at a cost of $0,70 per minute.
Portia Manangazira, Health and Child Care ministry director of epidemiology and disease control, said the programme is essential in reducing morbidity, mortality and ballooning costs in treatment and care.
“Things in the health sector have been very difficult; determinants of health are not excluded. It’s amazing how technologies can remove those bottlenecks to service delivery,” said Manangazira during the launch of Dial-A-Doc in Harare yesterday.
Manangazira said such platforms help to achieve millennium development goals and deal with persistent human resources challenges that have crippled the health sector for years.
Precious Lunga, head of Econet Health, said the initiative was inspired by the need to reduce the overwhelming workload faced by health professionals.
Responding to a question on the call cost per minute, Econet chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said the call cost is justified compared with actual visits to a health provider.
“To realise it’s cheaper, you should look at available alternatives to the service,” he said.
“If your grandmother had to go to the nearest clinic, how much would it cost her to travel, not forgetting the time factor?”
“There is nothing for free. It takes something to create such platforms and clients have to pay a practical fee for it to be viable. I think it’s something that has killed a lot of industries in our country”.
Official statistics show that mobile penetration rates in Zimbabwe now stand at 106 percent.
A recent University of Zimbabwe study found that 97 percent of women who received text messages turned up on the correct date to vaccinate their babies compared to the 74 percent among those who did not receive the text messages.