Provide access to important mobile health information (IVR/audio), in the local language
Project start date : 21/08/2010
Beneficiary country : Afghanistan Botswana Burkina Faso Cambodia Congo (the Democratic Republic of the) Ghana Madagascar Malawi Nigeria Uganda
About the project
Viamo has developed an IVR platform. It has technical integrations (E1 or SIP) with mobile network operators in 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Viamo implements automated green lines, where people can call 24/7 (with total privacy/anonymity) for more information about healthy behaviour, resources, or services in their areas, available in their own language. Communication costs are borne by their telecom partners through the establishment of strategic partnerships. Other green lines are limited in scope for budgetary reasons. With the 3-2-1 Service, once the content is created, the costs are the same and the number of recorded calls is small. Their telecom partners also support the promotion of the service (e.g. SMS sent to subscribers). Millions of people have thus been affected since Viamo launched the first service in Madagascar in 2010 with its partner, Human Network International. The 3-2-1 Service is now available in 13 countries. In 2016, more than 3 million people used the service, with an average of 600,000 unique users per month. The 3-2-1 Service content is multi sectoral, health being the most popular topic in the 13 countries. Viamo creates content with its NGO partners, with the commitment of the relevant ministry, according to the objectives of their projects (e.g. family planning, nutrition, infectious diseases, maternal and child health, etc.) The user can listen to messages about multiple topics of their choice and health issues they are interested in, free of charge and at any time. To find out where and how to access nearby services, the system automatically tracks data with real-time analytics and graphs. This system can be used for almost any health sector, but the intimate/anonymous aspect is very interesting for sensitive topics such as sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. With IVR, where messages are voice-recorded in local languages (Viamo has high quality voice production partners in each country), this strategy addresses the challenges of illiteracy and distance/logistics, in contexts where roads are not passable, expensive and/or dangerous. After listening to a key message of 30 to 60 seconds on a topic of their choice, the caller can also register to receive more information by SMS or IVR (e.g. curriculum with more detailed information depending on a woman’s week of pregnancy, etc.) Viamo asks its users if they want to participate in telephone surveys to improve the service, in order to measure the impact of their messages on user behaviour, attitudes and knowledge. It also tracks demographic statistics (age, gender, location).
Viamo plans to invest to add content on health issues that are missing in existing 3-2-1 countries, such as nutrition in Burkina Faso. In addition, this investment will help launch the service in new countries (Senegal, Niger, Haiti) with a health content database.
The main problem: how to connect people without access to a smartphone or the Internet to the information they need to lead a healthy life? The solution does not depend on the availability of the Internet or smartphones. Most people in Africa and Asia have access to a mobile phone. It is also an on-demand service: people do not need to wait for the information that NGOs or the government decide to disseminate. With our large content directories in each country, the people have the opportunity to find the answer to their own questions through this service. The IVR solution (audio format) is able to cope with the challenge of illiteracy, even though the service is also available via SMS and USSD in most countries. Viamo also translates and stores all content in local languages, and pre-tests each message to ensure that it is easy for the target population to understand.
To face the challenges of sustainability and scale: through its strategic partnerships with a telecom operator in each country, the costs of communication and promotion of the service are supported. The 3-2-1 Service is available nationally and Viamo intends to reach as many people as possible.
Smartphones are not yet accessible for most people. The Viamo solution is available offline. IVR, compared to an SMS, offers programmatic advantages to face the challenges of illiteracy, and to overcome the limitations of special characters. It allows for messages in a voice/accent that is understandable in the local language. As an IVR expert, Viamo offers these benefits with local partnerships, as well as its sophisticated platform that analyses data in real time with advanced visualisations. The 3-2-1 Service also has added value in financial terms, given the contribution of communication costs by its telecom partners. With an investment of 40,000 USD per topic, its content partners have the ability to broadcast their messages to hundreds of thousands of people.
20 Full-Time equivalents
7 Service providers
10 000 000
Number of beneficiaries since launch