Airtel Malawi and its partners have expanded the Chipatala Cha Pa Foni or Health Centre by Phone initiative to all parts of the country.
The initiative was launched in 2011 by Village Reach and is the first toll-free, personalised health hotline and message service in Malawi.
Minister of Health and Population, Atupele Muluzi, celebrated the national expansion of the toll-free health and nutrition hotline in Lilongwe recently with other dignitaries including US Ambassador, Virginia Palmer; German Ambassador, Jürgen Borsch and Airtel Malawi officials.
During the event, Muluzi said when the transition is complete, this will be the first government-run national health and nutrition hotline in Africa.
He said: “Let me remind everyone, if you have a health-related question, the number to dial is 54747. Health center by phone is ready to answer your calls.”
Sibusiso Nyasulu of Airtel said: “For us at Airtel, Chipatala Cha Pa Foni is a vital mobile health (mHealth) service that will bridge the healthcare information gap by empowering users with knowledge and understanding about various health—care issues.”
He said the hotline and message service are free to all callers, who can access the service from 7am to 7pm seven days a week, including holidays.
Nyasulu said the initiative will expand to 24 hours by the end of 2018.
“The health hotline was launched in 2011 in Balaka district by a Non-Governmental Organisation, VillageReach. Hotline nurses re-direct calls to doctors and refer callers for further care at a health center or hospital, when needed,” he said.
Originally focused on women and children, the hotline now covers all health topics, including nutrition, HIV and Tuberculosis