Mobile firms enlist in fight against HIV/AIDS

Mobile industry players have hooked up with the US government in a $10 million program to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Phones for Health, a public-private partnership announced at 3GSM Tuesday, will support the delivery of vital health data from the field via mobile networks.

WHO Assistant Director-General Howard Zucker said the spread of mobile networks across the developing world "has created a unique opportunity to significantly transform how countries can tackle global health challenges."

Phones for Health will allow health workers in the field to use a standard Motorola phone equipped with a downloadable application to enter health data and transfer it via a GPRS connection to a central database.

The system also supports SMS alerts and other tools for communication with field staff.

The program partners - the GSM Association, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Accenture Development Partnerships, Motorola, South African operator MTN and health software developer Voxiva - are initially focused on ten African countries following a successful pilot in Rwanda.

"The roll out of this health management software in Africa will clearly demonstrate how governments can exploit the expanding mobile infrastructure to enhance the well-being of their citizens," said GSMA CEO Rob Conway .