By ITU News.- Muslims around the world are now participating in a month-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan. For people living with diabetes, this time can prove difficult to manage blood-sugar levels, physical activity and medical tests during the feasting and fasting periods. But an innovative mobile health initiative aims to reach users with potentially life-saving messages.
In Tunisia, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with ITU, the World Health Organization (WHO) and various partners, is working to provide assistance to diabetics in the country through the Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative.
The programme aims to reach as many patients and their families as possible and provide them with the information and advice they need to follow during Ramadan and afterwards through a series of daily text messages on their mobile phones.
Here is a small sample of the types of messages users could receive:
-“Diabetic diets must be maintained during Ramadan.”
-“Don’t eat a huge quantity of food all at once, and drink water throughout the evening.”
-“If fasting involves a risk to health then it is forbidden. Ask your doctor for advice.”
These targeted text messages are a powerful example of mobile technology to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
This programme proved effective in Tunisia last year, with more than 20,000 citizens participating and following the advice, expressing their satisfaction and recommending it to others.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAMME
Diabetics and their families can sign up for free by sending a message to a toll free number in Tunisia: 85355.
When registration is completed, the user will receive a daily message for people living with diabetes or their families during the whole month of Ramadan and the week following. It will relate to fasting, diet, medication, physical activity, necessary tests and medical clinics.
Given the importance of this program and its expected positive impact on public health, the Ministry of Health invites various media, civil society and all partners to support it to ensure its success.
SCALING-UP THE SUCCESS OF BE HE@LTHY, BE MOBILE
Since 2013, ITU and WHO have been working on the Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative in 11 countries, using mobile technologies for the prevention and control of NCDs.
The initiative seeks to overcome major challenges associated with similar mHealth interventions, namely:
-The fact that many suffer from “pilotitis” – there are too many small-scale mHealth pilots and research studies
-These programmes are not designed for sustainability or scale
-This leads to a fragmented evidence base for future interventions
Be He@lthy, Be Mobile is unique in that was created to address these challenges and opportunities and help countries scale up national mHealth programs for NCD prevention and management. The initiative is designed to save lives and improve the world’s health through digital tools.