The use of mobile phones has reached every part of this world. Also in the most rural areas of developing countries there are people who own a mobile and use it whenever possible. Before any domestic machine, any health insurance, any solution for the most essential needs is in place a mobile device will arrive in the families. Mobile phones have become one of the most beloved things – everywhere.
Of course, these devices are very helpful to communicate to each other, are the entrance to new worlds – especially if combined with Internet access- and substitute often missing infrastructures.
But there is much more behind. An emotional relationship. Fun. Curiosity. A mobile device means to be part of our modern world. Wherever you live. Independent from your needs.
The interest for this device even in the poorest parts is not less than in other parts of the world.
“Sometimes people even spend their few cents rather for charging their phones than for buying food or spending it for health issues”, I was told by some social workers and social entrepreneurs engaged in these areas.
I remember myself that when I stayed with a tribal family in India the teacher’s son, just 16 years old, did not talk that much. But one evening he spoke a lot – this was when he noticed my smartphone. He asked about the apps, Facebook and all these functionalities modern devices offer. He wanted to see these apps, how they look, what they offer.
He could use his father’s, but just for offline games – without access to the Internet, as this was limited and therefore excluded to him – but he knew very well about the existence of all these possibilities and he was very keen to learn more about it.
An incredible clash of worlds: modern technology ambition combined with a very basic lifestyle where the clothes are still washed in the river, people live in one room only, drinking water has to be carried hundreds of meters – if available – and in house pollution and heavy respiratory diseases are caused by open fireplaces.
Unfortunately, I have not seen any of the rural women being owner of a mobile phone. Most of them probably did not know that much about it as their male family members.
A Kenian solution: how a mobile helps to get health insurance
Would they be able to get out if it a real benefit? That’s what Sam Agutu from Kenia asked himself – and with success:
Changamka MicroHealth Ltd [CML] is a Medical Insurance Provider [MIP] licensed under the Insurance Act, that utilizes technological innovation to facilitate financing of healthcare services. The company was incorporated in 2008 following years of research, product and software development; culminating in a mobile technology solution that provides access to primary healthcare to those excluded from the formal healthcare economy.
How it works?
A smart card platform integrated into the mobile phones allows pregnant women to safe money. Through a partnership programme with the local hospital mothers in low-income areas who have no access to medical insurance can save small sums step by step on a regular basis via the integrated smart card and top up prepaid cards to cover upcoming costs for delivery. Based on a pre-contracted price that ensures them the medical care they will need.
Today, the offer of these cards goes beyond and does not target just pregnant mothers, but also other patients in need of insurance. A healthcare programme is included.
A fantastic idea.
Video: Sam Agutu, CEO of Changamka micro health, on scalable mobile health solutions
Website Changamka: http://www.changamka.co.ke