Kenya’s largest telecom operator by subscriber numbers – Safaricom has partnered with the Ministry of health and Korea Telecom to unveil a product that will avail information regarding disease epidemics to its subscribers in their travel destinations. The move intents to beef – up the country’s preparedness and control of epidemics. Safiri Smart is basically an international initiative from the Korea Telecom to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases such as Ebola from entering Kenya.
Using technology to prevent infectious disease transmissions from country to country is a common phenomenon but using a service that’s managed by a telecom operator and doesn’t require a smartphone but rather a USSD code is surely a first of its kind in the country. Preventing spread of these infectious diseases isn’t bread and butter for many economies; especially countries like Kenya that are bordered by countries that have no stable governments with known history of dangerous diseases such as Ebola and Polio.
Speaking on the unveiling, Safaricom’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Stephen Chege noted that Safiri Smart solution will see the firm’s customers who opt in to the service receive important information about any epidemics that have broken out at their travel destination including prevention measures and symptoms. This in turn will keep communities’ safer and is crucial to the companies fulfilling its vision of Transforming Lives, he added.
Safaricom subscribers who opt into the Safiri Smart service will receive information as soon as they land in the affected country.
On its part, the ministry of health through cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki acknowledged that Kenya being a major transport hub poses a higher risk of contracting infectious disease. She therefore agreed that mobile phones can be a great tool in promoting public health.
How to opt-in and use Safiri Smart service
- Safaricom subscribers can access Safiri Smart by dialing *265# from their mobile phones.
- Then selecting their preferred language (English or Kiswahili)
- And lastly by accepting their terms.
Myung Gon Chung, Vice President, Sustainability Management Department, Korea Telecom added that service providers had the opportunity to help prevent contagious diseases from spreading by sharing crucial information with their subscribers at the right time and in the right format.
Safiri Smart has already been rolled out in Ghana and Laos as a mobile application, enabling citizens of those countries stay informed while visiting epidemic-prone areas and providing reports to health officials when an epidemic erupts.