Fewer than 25% of South Africans have tested for HIV and know their status, and only 10% of those who qualify for anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment are currently receiving these life-saving drugs.
Today, MTN South Africa renewed its commitment to Project Masiluleke (Project M) which harnesses the power of mobile technology to help reverse the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) crises in South Africa.
Eunice Maluleke, GM of the MTN Foundation, says: “We are using the power of mobile technology to penetrate the communities we serve and offer life-saving, vital healthcare information to millions that need our help.
“Together with our partners, we aim to help South Africans access information, get tested and stay on treatment. We are using our core product to eradicate the stigma about HIV AIDS and bring down these numbing statistics.”
Pop!Tech Accelarator director Leetha Filderman says: “Mobile phones are closing the information gap by delivering geographically and culturally appropriate messages that encourage people to learn their VIV [HIV] status earlier; connect people to existing HIV and TB clinical services for testing and treatment; and increase people’s adherence to anti-retroviral regimens once in treatment.”
As part of its commitment, MTN South Africa is offering up to 1-million “Please Call Me” messages a day, per year to Project M, a cross-sector collaboration offering solutions to pressing global challenges.
Says Filderman: “We are delighted to partner with MTN South Africa to play our part in helping to extend the lives of millions; and reduce the human, community, and economic losses associated with what would otherwise be certain and untimely death.”
Project M currently has two main phases. The first is the “Please Call Me” (PCM) stage; HIV AIDS messages are inserted in the unused space of PCM messages. The second phase is the implementation of a mobile technology called TxtAlert, which allows patients on ARVs to get automated SMS reminders of their scheduled clinic visits. Regular clinic appointments help patients commit to their medication regimens which avoids treatment lapses that contribute to drug-resistance and diseases progression.
Since Project M was launched in October last year:
* MTN South Africa has tagged about 230-million messages with HIV messages in English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho, Tswana and Sepedi. Zulu messages have outperformed English, guiding future deployment.
* The National AIDS Helpline has received close to 1-million calls.
* TxtAlert technology will soon be piloted.
Filderman says: “As a major undertaking with transformative potential, Project Masiluleke requires the efforts and dedications of a wide-ranging set of partners. Together we are committed to lending a helping hand and fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”