Mobile Technology That Save Lives

Posted by On August 10, 2015
By McKenna Gilliland Since 2013, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has been working with local implementers in Tanzania to help women fight cancer. In 2015, the partnership began an innovative program to fund transportation for rural women to cancer-care centers and back to their homes through a grant provided by Vodacom Tanzania, the country’s leading mobile communication operator.  This program is improving women’s access to cancer care at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) in Dar es Salaam and Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) in Mwanza. In its first few months, Tanzania Marketing and Communication Limited (T-MARC), Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s lead implementing partner, in collaboration with Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) and the national Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW), has engaged eleven personnel stationed in various cities in the three Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon-supported regions (Iringa, Mbeya and Lake Zone), and at the cancer hospitals. These dedicated staff, some of whom are cancer survivors themselves, facilitate women’s travel and transfer to the cancer center. In July, the first five women assisted under the program, cervical-cancer patients from Iringa Region, received transportation to ORCI in Dar es Salaam to begin radiation treatment. What is innovative about this project, though, is not just that it gives underserved rural women their first access to qualified cancer care. The project is also leveraging Tanzania’s extensive wireless infrastructure to pay for the women’s bus tickets through payments made by cellphone through Vodacom’s mobile money service, M-Pesa. In this case, by allowing for the instant movement of funds to cover transportation costs, mobile phones are giving Tanzanian women a chance to beat cancer. McKenna is the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Summer 2015 Intern.