Impilo – Health In My Hands

Impilo is a new, innovative support service available on all mobile phones in South Africa.  It provides no frills, no cost, reliable advice and you don’t need a smartphone or a degree in rocket science to use it.
Impilo was developed to help people more easily identify and locate health and well-being service providers in any area of the country. It can also be used to give confidential feedback on the services received at public health and SASSA service points. What makes Impilo really great is that it is available 24 hours a day and is totally free – you don’t even need to have airtime on your phone to use it.
Connect to Impilo on any mobile phone network (except Vodacom) by calling *130*448# and follow the menu prompts.
Currently, Impilo is the only service of its kinds that has been zero-rated by the mobile phone networks which is testament to the potential that this tool has to help vulnerable people in South Africa. Sadly, Impilo is still working on an arrangement for no cost access with Vodacom … If you are on Vodacom you will have to call *120*448# at a cost of 20 cents per 20 seconds – which is still great value for what you get.
There are two useful services available on Impilo:

  • A Help Service providing 24-hour access to HIV-911’s database of health and well-being service providers;
  • A client satisfaction survey that gives consumers of health and wellbeing services a much-needed voice to raise their concerns or offer praise for services rendered.

This clever tool in your pocket has been 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). The partners have been perfecting Impilo for about two years during which time they tracked international trends that show that there is a growing global demand for information on critical health and welfare issues to be more easily available via mobile phones. As current research shows that over 93 percent of South Africans have access to a mobile phone, 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.
So how does it work?
The technology platform is the same as that used to re-charge with airtime on a pay-as-you-go contract. With over 88 percent of mobile phone users operating on a pay-as-you-go system, this is a familiar, trusted interface that works on all mobile phones. 
Impilo uses a set of easy to read menus making it simple to navigate and interact with. You can also change the language from English to Afrikaans or isiZulu, and other language options are planned.  If that’s not impressive enough, when using the referral support service, Impilo triangulates the general position of the call from local mobile phone towers, and in so doing 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, day or night, for free.
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.
For more information on Impilo or to participate in the use of Impilo, please contact HIVAN on 0860 448 911. HIVAN’s HIV-911’s database is also available in the following ways:
HIV-911 website
HIV-911 mobi-site
Impilo Referral Directory and Rating Service: *130* 448# (*120*448# on Vodacom)
SMS: 45080

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