SMSs save live in Lesotho


Staff Writer

TO MARK the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) today, the GSMA, building on UNICEF’s child rights expertise, has launched the mPower Youth initiative to showcase how mobile technology can be a catalyst for advancing the rights of children. The initiative is supported by a number of mobile operators globally, including Vodafone.

As we celebrate the convention on the rights of the child, mobile phones and money transfer services are saving the lives of children and their mothers threatened by HIV infection in Lesotho.

Mobile operator Vodafone is working with money transfer service M-Pesa to put women and children in touch with medical advice and then pay for their travel to health clinics.

The scheme is using mobile phones and SMS messages to catch HIV infection early and get treatment started as soon as possible.

Over 139 000 people in Lesotho have now been tested for HIV through this programme, called Text to Treatment. Over 600 HIV-positive children and pregnant women have received life-saving care and treatment thanks to Text to Treatment.

“Mobile operators around the world, including Vodafone, are showing that mobile technology has tremendous power to enable the fundamental rights of a child,” Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA said.

“Thirty years ago, when the convention was first adopted, there were 7 million mobile users globally, today there are 5.2 billion. The mobile industry continues to build on its commitment to protection and internet safety, and we have a significant role to play in ensuring that every child has a voice, and can participate and thrive in their communities.”

Wivina Belmonte, principal advisor, private sector engagement, UNICEF said: “In today’s world, children are born into situations we could not have imagined thirty years ago”.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is as relevant in this world as it was three decades ago. We need to ensure that children are safe when exploring new technology. And we must see that the freedoms and opportunities technology can deliver are available to every child. UNICEF calls on the mobile industry to demonstrate how technology can be used to reduce inequality and unleash the potential of all girls and boys,” Ms Belmonte said.

Vodafone is a member of the worldwide mobile phone industry body, the GSMA. Text to Treatment is one example of a wide range of industry-supported initiatives that encourage the protection of children’s rights globally.

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