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MTN, Sanlam set up healthcare line

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With access to basic and affordable health services still a challenge for many South Africans, MTN SA and alliance partner Sanlam have launched MTN CareConnect, a nurses’ advisory line that will assist the public with everyday health queries. The line will go live in the East Rand during May.

Designed to offer a professional nurse-assisted service for any day-to-day health-related enquiries from the general public, MTN CareConnect aims to make basic healthcare guidance about ailments such as stomach aches, fevers, potential poisoning and general parenting tips related to children’s health, among others, available to all South Africans.
“MTN CareConnect will empower South Africans by giving them access to health information when dealing with healthcare issues,” says Serame Taukobong, chief marketing officer of MTN SA. “With its independently operated call centre, callers can easily tap into the knowledge of qualified health professionals facilitated by Sanlam, as well as its extensive medical database.”
While public health services dominate 82% of health services in South Africa, only 18% are catered for by private health services.  “The reality is that healthcare services are costly,” explains Grant Newton, CEO of Sanlam Health. “Yet, even when just simple health-related education is required, many South Africans don’t feel they are in a position to call on these services as consultation fees remain high.
“By making our extensive health care knowledge and expertise available through the broad MTN channels, we are confident that the public will be better informed about vital health education and information – at a fraction of the price.”
Immediate assistance on health symptoms, general health information, drug and medicine databases, poison information and stress management services will be readily accessible via the nurses’ advisory line. And, to ensure accessibility for all, nursing professionals will be on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week on 083 903 4690, in all 11 official languages and at a charge of R5.00 per minute.
“Then, based on the health situation described by the caller, the nurses will either provide relevant health education and information, suggest the patient visits a medical facility, or route the call to the emergency services and assist with facilitating the dispatch of an ambulance, should that be necessary,” says Newton.
While MTN CareConnect will provide access to qualified healthcare counsel, it is expected to also foster a more informed, educated and healthier consumer who knows how to deal with basic ailments without having to leave the home.
“We will by no means be attempting to replace any health services; we will merely provide alternatives to consumers unsure of the severity of their health query and hopefully alleviate the stress of smaller complaints on an already overloaded healthcare system,” says Taukobong.
Currently in its pilot phase, MTN CareConnect will be rolled out in a staged approach, starting with Daveyton and Etwatwa in the East Rand. A national roll out is planned towards the end of the year.
The first of its services will include the nurses’ advisory line. Thereafter, a maternity programme, high blood pressure programme, and an electronic screening tool will be added to its services.  Looking to the future, MTN is exploring mobile health services that include high-demand ailments such as HIV, TB, diabetes and malaria.