Indian Mobile Games to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa

1st December 2006, Freedom HIV/AIDS not only celebrates its first anniversary in fight against HIV/AIDS using mobile phone games but also adds a new chapter – ‘Africa Reach Program‘ with Hivos, a leading Dutch development organization, and KPN, the one of the largest Dutch telecom companies under the STAR programme (www.starprogramme.org). The six countries covered under the Star programme in Africa are Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in Eastern Africa, and Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia in Southern Africa, some of the most HIV/AIDS affected regions of Africa. Under this collaboration Delhi based mobile applications developing studio, ZMQ will design and develop new mobile games on HIV/AIDS awareness for Africa. In the first phase two games will be launched in Kenya. Apart from English, the mobile games for HIV/AIDS awareness will also be launched in the local language – Kiswahili using local characters, heroes, and local messaging using colloquial. ZMQ further plans to bring more games and learning solutions on HIV/AIDS for the African nations using local folks, tales and culture. The First game is AIDS Penalty Shoot-out, a soccer game based, a popular sport in Africa. In this game the player has to save and shoot penalties. On saving a penalty the gamer gets random messages on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, on saving a goal receives message on safety and on scoring a goal receives messages on modes of transmission and myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. The score of a gamer also enables to capture the learning quotient of the gamer thus helping in a behavior change. The second game Mission Messenger is an adventure game for casual users who enjoy playing exciting but easy-to-maneuver games. The gamer flies over the African continent, from village to village, collecting condoms and red ribbons, and distributes them to the villagers on their specific needs and demands, spreading the messages of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, transmission and safety. Freedom HIV/AIDS started with 4 games for India, which has been acclaimed as one of the most innovative social development project done using technology. During this period there has been an overwhelming response to these games with a download of over 7 million game sessions in the year. Seeing the tremendous response and effect of the games, more and more groups are looking to use mobile as a medium to create awareness. On the collaboration for mobile games for Africa between Hivos and ZMQ, Paul Maassen, Programme Manager of Hivos said, “Hivos is very excited about our co-operation with ZMQ. They have shown that blending HIV awareness with mobile phone games was not just innovative but highly successful in India and we believe it will do the same in Africa. Hivos partners closely with many African organizations working on HIV/AIDS and youth. Today a mobile phone is as common for the majority of African youth as it is in other parts of the world. Use of HIV/AIDS knowledge games will be an innovative and effective way of creating awareness and sensitization among the youth of Africa and this innovative and effective approach very much fits in the Hivos development strategy. The STAR programme hopes that a successful launch of the pilot will lead to further expansion and scalability in other African countries”. STAR programme is a capacity building programme of Hivos and KPN. KPN is an experienced telecommunications company with in-depth ICT knowledge and experience and a wide range of skilled staff. Hivos will contribute expertise on organisational development within civil society organisations to the programme, as well as ICTs & Development expertise, knowledge on the digital divide and country specific knowledge. On the above collaboration, CEO of ZMQ Software Systems Subhi Quraishi said, “Fortunately or unfortunately, Mobile reach and HIV/AIDS has seen a parallel growth. Mobile devices are the most widely spread technology tool in the hands of a common man. Using this reach of device, we can fight HIV/AIDS by creating awareness and health management tool”. Subhi Quraishi further said, ” Joining hands with Hivos and STAR programme, it has provided us a reach to Africa and we are very excited about it. Reaching the most affected area was our target, and we thank STAR programme to have given this opportunity.” ZMQ is a Delhi based eLearning, Gaming and Edutainment company, specializing in developing innovative communications solutions for grass-root communities using ICT. It is working on various other ICT tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS, some of which are: edutainment games for the youth in vernacular languages of India; monitoring and evaluation tools for HIV/AIDS workplace programs; journalist training program for reporting millennium Development Goal issues, and other concepts and solutions in the area of child development, female foeticide, MDG issues, health issues such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, disaster Management programs, environment and Climatic changes. connect@animationxpress.com