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Health and welfare mobile service Impilo is powerful, free

Impilo is a new mobile service that helps people easily locate health and wellbeing service providers in South Africa. It can also be used to give confidential feedback on the services received at public health and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) service points.

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The service is free — no airtime is required — and as it is USSD based, it will work on any mobile phone. To use it, simply dial *130*448# and follow the menu prompts.

Impilo is the only service of its kinds that has been zero-rated by almost all of the major mobile phone networks in South Africa. Impilo is still working on an arrangement for no cost access with Vodacom. Mobile phone users on the Vodacom network will have to dial *120*448# at a cost of 20 cents per 20 seconds — which is still great value. The support behind Impilo shows the potential it has to help vulnerable people in South Africa.

Impilo was developed by HIV-911 with their partners, Always Active Technologies (AAT) and the Clear Project based at Wits School of Public and Development Management (P&DM). HIV-911 is the flagship programme of the Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking (HIVAN), a self-funded Centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Impilo provides 24-hour access to HIV-911’s database of health and wellbeing service providers that provide rape support, counselling, SASSA grants, ARV treatment, HIV counselling and testing, home-based care, hospice care and primary health care. The client satisfaction surveys on offer gives consumers of health and wellbeing services a much-needed voice to raise their concerns or offer praise for services rendered.

Impilo uses a set of easy to read menus making it simple to navigate and interact with. Users can also change the language from English to Afrikaans or Zulu, and other language options are planned. Impilo also triangulates the general position of the user’s phone from local mobile phone towers, and in doing so, can narrow service provider information to those facilities within easy reach of the client. This information is text messaged to clients within mere minutes of making the request. The service can also be accessed via HIV-911’s website, mobi-site or SMS: 45080

Impilo, two years in the making, is a response to international trends that indicate a growing global demand for information on critical health and welfare issues to be more easily available via mobile phones. In a country with over 59 million mobile subscriptions — that’s according to a report by the GSM Alliance — Impilo is well placed and well timed.

The goal of Impilo is to put health and welfare information in the hands of everyone and to find a safe, confidential way to increase citizen-based advocacy for better quality services in South Africa.

Working in partnership, HIVAN, AAT, the Black Sash and the Clear programme at Wits P&DM have just put Impilo to use to assist with the Black Sash’s Community Monitoring and Advocacy (CMAP) project. This initiative enables community monitors to rate, assess and evaluate customer experiences at public service delivery points across South Africa. While the client satisfaction surveys are currently developed for public health clinics, SASSA service points and SASSA pay points, the technology is flexible and additional surveys can be added as the need arises.

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