Did You Know topping up your phone could save your life in Africa?


Nine out of ten people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have any access to health or accident insurance. They have to pay tremendously high fees for treatment, medical care and hospitalisation out of pocket. Especially those people living below the poverty line ( more than 40% in Sub-Saharan Africa ) have to take out loans, dissolve their savings or sell essential resources to pay for their treatment. Therefore many are not in the position to make use of the required services at all, in fact many people fall into poverty due to illness and treatment costs. (www.medicalnewstoday.com)

To have an effective health insurance in Sub-Saharan Africa we need help from the government right? But what if instead of waiting for the government, the money came from the pocket of the people itself? I know what you are thinking: it is impossible to cover the health of everyone. The African mobile market exceeded half a billion subscribers during the third quarter of 2010. So investing in their own health through solidarity is possible. How? By creating a health fund that will work together with a mobile phone company, so each time a customer buys a prepaid refill card to recharge his mobile phone 5 to10% of the total cost will automatically be saved in the health fund.

This is a tool for national health coverages in many countries in Africa. Meaning that the subscriber is not only contribuiting for his own health insurance but also those of other members, whichever gets sick, will be treated with the help of the collective fund. Anayris, the mobile health platform I envision, requires users to pay into a collective fund with each recharge through a certified phone company.

Typically in Angola and much of Africa, mobile users recharge their phone frequently. As medical needs arises, customer access the funds to get coverage through a participating medical facility. Solidarity should be THE priority to ensure our health. We truly need an innovative health system strategy like this one that will enable better health security in cost efficient way via mobile phones.

People may think I am an idealist but IDEALISM is what makes things that seem impossible today, a reality in the future.

Written by Maria Pedro Miala with the help of the team of African Entrepreneurship awards.

dMaria Pedro Miala is a mother, 2016-2017 Chanpion for Change at Empower Women for UN Women. She is a changemaker, a volunteer, a mentor to African students and has 10 years experience as a nurse in health care.

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