Airtel CEO, Mr. Rajan Swaroop
Health is wealth, the aphorism states, and in the modern world, access to adequate and relevant information is a major route to getting the full benefits of health services.
This realisation is propelling a major public private sector partnership that has seen leading telecommunications services provider Airtel Nigeria collaborate with public sector health organisations—National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) in providing needed public health information.
Airtel uses the platform of the ubiquitous mobile telephones carried by nearly 20 million Nigerians on its network to provide dedicated lines for citizens (consumers) to call in to NACA or NAFDAC. Citizens also receive text messages and alerts on issues of public health concern.
Director of Corporate Communication and CSR, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Oparah, explained Airtel’s involvement as arising from its concern with fundamental issues of public good. “Our interventions in public health are akin to the work we are doing with primary education. We are concerned in our interventions in investing in areas of demonstrable long-term benefit to the communities that we serve. Health is a fundamental concern. By enabling access to real time information, we hope to serve as a veritable link in the health care chain.”
The collaboration with NACA concerns the National Call Centre on HIV/AIDS and Related Diseases. Airtel provided the telecom centre as well as toll free lines that enable citizens to call in and make enquiries about HIV or AIDS. Airtel provided an initial 30 lines for use of staff at the Call Centre. Thirty agents engaged by NACA at the National Call Centre on HIV/AIDS provide information, guidance and counselling to callers. All calls on a dedicated Airtel line, 6222, are free.
The telecomms firm also enables NACA use the Centre to