Tanzania is receiving a new mobile phone SMS message system to monitor the supply of regulated malaria drugs, announced Roll Back Malaria on April 22, 2011.

Roll Back Malaria is a partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Novartis, Vodacom and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The nationwide program comes after a successful pilot project that used mobile phone technology and electronic mapping to track the stock levels of anti-malarial drugs at health facilities, reports The Tanzanian Guardian.

The pilot project launched in 2009 as “SMS for Life” and covered three districts of approximately 900,000 people. Now the expansion will cover 5,000 health facilities and over 40 million people in Tanzania, reports Roll Back Malaria.

“SMS for Life has demonstrated that we can overcome the longstanding problem of stock-outs at the health facility level. This flexible scheme can be implemented quickly and at relatively low cost in any country to track any medicine,” said Jim Barrington, SMS for Life program director, adding, “It’s rewarding to see how a unique partnership, which combines the specific skills and experience of its various members to deliver an innovative use of everyday technologies, positively impacts the lives of malaria patients, their families and communities.”

This news comes on the heels of the recent AP report that malaria medications have been pilfered at unprecedented levels from some African countries, including Tanzania.

By S. Imber