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Frog and UNICEF partner to tackle infant health

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Industrial design firm Frog Design, perhaps best known for the creation of the case for the Apple IIc, is working in partnership with children’s charity UNICEF as the lead design partner on Project Mwana, a major mhealth initiative to improve maternal and infant health and welfare in Malawi and rural Zambia. The project will start off by making use of mobile technologies in innovative ways to significantly increase mothers’ visits to clinics for ante and postnatal care.

Mobile technology is particularly important as a communications vehicle in Malawi and Zambia, as there is little other existing infrastructure with which to reach large volumes of the population. According to figures from Informa Telecoms & Media’s WCIS, mobile penetration in Malawi hit 20 per cent at the end of September and 40 per cent in Zambia. Under the partnership, working closely with UNICEF’s own Innovation Team, Frog will donate its services to develop sustainable mobile systems that will be able to communicate critical information on clinic locations, availability of services, delivery of results and other information to the end users. A target of January 2012 has been set for the first effects of this partnership to be felt.

Beyond the partnership with UNICEF, Frog and parent company Aricent have also announced an initiative known as the Mobile Mandate, which is a multi-year investment to tap into the power of mobile technology for social innovation projects in areas such as health, education, energy, and economic well-being, by connecting Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), designers, technology companies, and social entrepreneurs in the field, to build scalable collaboration models and solutions with network operators, device manufacturers, and application developers.

Mobile Mandate will encompass Project Mwana as well as Frog and Aricent’s other ongoing social innovation programs including Project Masiluleke, an initiative designed to tackle the HIV epidemic in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa that has reached over 800 million people. According to the United Nations, an estimated 5.7 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, more than in any other country.

“UNICEF and frog share a common vision for the powerful role that mobile technologies can play in creating efficiencies around delivering life-saving health services for mothers and their children,” said Erica Kochi, communication specialist with UNICEF.

Doreen Lorenzo, president of frog design and executive vice president and general manager of Aricent, said: “Mobile Mandate reinforces our commitment to social innovation and underscores our belief in the ability of mobile technology and thoughtful design to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.”


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