Econet's dial-a-doctor service goes live in Zimbabwe


A dial-a-doctor service has gone live in Zimbabwe, with the head of the center for disease control in Zimbabwe saying technological advances were helping to boost health accessibility.

The service will be run by Econet Wireless, the biggest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe after Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne. Its Econet Health unit is already active in the public health sector in Zimbabwe, helping rural clinic store vaccines using excess energy from their base stations.

On Wednesday, Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said the new dial a doctor service will help bring health information access to the country. Dr Precious Lunga, the head of Econet Health said users would be able to access medical advice through their mobile phones for 70 cents a minute.

"It's a health information service and we will not prescribe," she said.

Dr Portia Manangazira, the disease control chief in the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe, said such technological advances would help boost access to health information.

"At 70 cents per minute accessing a quality doctor is a huge benefit for our society," added Mboweni. Officials at the company added that a chat service that enables patients to interact with medical doctors on mobile phones will also be introduced in the near future.

Econet has invested in medical doctors who will be on stand-by at its call center for 24 hours a day. Lunga said the service sought to bridge the distance gap in seeking medical information.

Econet and the other mobile companies in Zimbabwe are increasingly focusing on value added services to boost declining revenues from the voice telephony category, the industry's traditional mainstay.