Taking advantage of the fact that almost 90% of the Kenyan population has access to mobile phones, M-TIBA, a “mobile health wallet”, is now helping millions across the country put small sums aside for medical care when needed.
With over a third of the population in Kenya often having problems paying for healthcare, M-TIBA allows users to save money on their mobile phones to then be used to access medical services in any facility that accepts M-TIBA for payment.
Kenya has long been a leader in mobile money payment systems. M-Pesa, launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator, lets people transfer cash using their phones and is now used by almost 30 million people in 10 countries.
Alice Machichi, Project Manager at the PharmAccess Foundation in Kenya, believes that healthcare is next frontier for Kenya’s digital revolution.
“In terms of using mobile phones for financial services and mobile money, I think health is the next big beneficiary,” says Ms. Machichi.
M-TIBA is M for mobile and Tiba is treatment in Swahili, so mobile treatment.
To date, almost 600 hospitals work with M-TIBA, providing healthcare services to those who need it most.
Johnstone Simuyu, a casual worker in Nairobi, Kenya, used to have trouble securing and even transporting such funds to the hospital. With M-TIBA, he can now manage his savings to prepare for future treatments he or his family might require.
Having just launched in 2016, M-TIBA is a major success in the use of technology for access to medical care, with over a million Kenyans now on the platform.