Key Individual:
Valter Cumbi

Who can benefit from this study?
Civic Tech initiatives

Organisation responsible for case study:

Org. type: Non-Profit

Would you like to suggest an edit?
Click here to email us.

Pensa – Providing free and government approved health information to Mozambican citizens

Post Status:
Main Project Location: Maputo
Project country/countries: Mozambique
Project dates:  –
Last updated: 23 March 2022

Brief overview of the Case Study   

PENSA’s mHealth platform provides every Mozambican free and MOH-approved health information through USSD, SMS, and a responsive website, covering the last mile and the bottom of the pyramid.

PENSA (Health Information Education Platform) is available on all Mozambican Mobile Network Operators by dialling *660# and through the website. Through either channel, the citizen can: – see symptoms, precautions and general information for various diseases; see information on maternal health, baby development, and vaccines; get contact details for health facilities; and more.

The main objective of PENSA is to get information about health to the most vulnerable citizens and to facilitate the interaction between citizen and the entities that offer health basic services. As part of this project, PENSA works with the Ministry of Health to make the health content freely accessible by the masses.

The challenge or problem

There are very few health facilities in rural settings and a limited reach of health information
There is a low physician density: 25,000 patients per physician (average);
Impractical outreach awareness campaigns: which are slow and resource-intensive due to the materials and personnel required to visit all the rural areas
Inadequacy of conventional technologies: TV & Radio are expensive as a continuous means of communication and many citizens don’t own TV or radios;
Internet reach is only 10% of the population.

The solution that was implemented

According to our telecommunications regulator, over 80% of Mozambican adults and adolescents own mobile phones, turning it into the ideal vehicle through which to deliver services and solutions to the citizens. Of these mobile phone owners, however, only 20% have smartphones, a third have feature phones, and the rest (the majority) have basic phones. These different devices, and inconsistent network coverage, makes conventional mobile apps less adequate for our reality. Therefore, through Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)–a technology available on all mobile phones, PENSA provides citizens health information provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH). They have also deployed a MOH-based call centre to respond to citizen’s questions. This is particularly relevant given the costs and distances required to reach the health centres, which often deters the underprivileged from going until their health issues is very severe.
Which actors, resources, conditions, tools, etc. were required?

Collaborations are important and are built on personal networks
Being proactive when dealing with the government helped make the process faster

What technology was used?

SMS, USSD, Website


What results were achieved?

There is a lack of ecosystem support for civic tech practitioners in Mozambique

Lessons and recommendations

There is a lack of ecosystem support for civic tech practitioners in Mozambique
The problem should drive the project, not the technology
In Mozambique, about 90% of successful civic tech projects are non-tech related
The political and economy contexts of civic tech is too often ignored

Case study images

Scroll to Top