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A Doctor in Your Pocket: Health Hotlines in Developing Countries

Posted by EKStallings on Nov 04, 2011
A Doctor in Your Pocket: Health Hotlines in Developing Countries data sheet 1366 Views
Ivatury, Gautam, Jesse Moore, Alison Bloch
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The GSM Association—the global trade association for mobile network operators—and its Development Fund believe that health hotlines can transform healthcare for poor people just as mobile phones are revolutionizing financial services (‘mobile money’). Health hotlines are simple to understand (“call a doctor”), provide immediate assistance, and are available to anyone with a mobile phone. The reach and branding of a mobile network operator (MNO), and the scalability of call center technology may mean that health hotlines serve vast numbers of people in the coming years.


As a first scan of the approach, this report tracks hotlines operating in developing countries, assesses their social and commercial success to date, and offers suggestions for governments, industry bodies and development agencies to advance this approach.


In the first section we define the health hotline model and present a brief landscape of health hotlines in operation today. Section 3 spotlights four of the most prominent health hotlines in developing countries, and compares their business approaches. In Section 4 we assess their commercial viability and potential for growth, and in Section 5 we evaluate their potential for social impact. Finally, Section 6 offers thoughts on how development agencies and governments can support the health hotline phenomenon.