GSK teams up with Vodafone on mobile supply chain management

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has teamed up with Vodafone in Mozambique in a test of a new supply chain approach in difficult conditions. The alliance aims to boost vaccination rates up to 10% by using cellphones to improve communication of supply and demand in rural areas.

Vodafone is rolling out the project at 100 clinics in Mozambique. Each facility will receive regular prompts telling them to report vaccine stock levels by SMS text message. And GSK hopes that by improving supply chain transparency it can be more responsive, delivering vaccines where they are needed, when they are needed. The aim is to remove a basic barrier to vaccination--the lack of vaccines at a clinic.

GSK and Vodafone are working to overcome this obstacle as part of a one-year pilot project to boost vaccination rates in Mozambique. Vodafone is already using the mobile supply chain tool to track stocks of anti-malarial drugs at 5,000 clinics in Tanzania as part of a partnership with Novartis ($NVS). And after refining the system for three years, the U.K. telecommunications giant has incorporated it into a three-pronged push to raise vaccination rates in Mozambique.

"Innovative technologies--whether mobile devices, medicines or vaccines--are helping to transform global health," GSK CEO Andrew Witty said. GSK and Vodafone are also giving smartphones to healthcare workers so they can manage planning of vaccinations. And Vodafone is targeting mothers with text message alerts about upcoming vaccinations. Mothers can then send an SMS to arrange an appointment.

The pilot project is one of a series of efforts to leverage widespread cellphone use in Africa to improve healthcare. Others--such as Sproxil--are using text messaging to cut the spread of fake drugs across the continent. In Tanzania, GSK worked with Coca-Cola to help clinics there learn some tricks from the world's most successful supply chain operator, a company that can get Cokes delivered pretty much anywhere.

- here's the press release
- check out the Reuters article
- read FierceVaccines' take