World AIDS Day 2008

The subject of mobile phones for health is one that I have become increasingly interested in over time. Over half of the people living in developing countries currently have mobile phones, and that percentage is growing rapidly. The rule of thumb concerning Innovation with the use of mobile phones seems to be expect the unexpected. The versatility of mobile phones holds the promise of a dramatic improvement in the overall state of health of the populations.

Africa Aid creates intimate partnerships that take the large-scale issues of extreme poverty and scales them down to a manageable community level. MDNet is Africa Aid’s newest initiative to create free mobile phone physician networks within countries in Africa, helping to advance the transfer of medical knowledge between physicians in Africa. As an MDNet officer, I work remotely to coordinate planning and implementation of programmatic goals and research stakeholders and resources in target countries.

The proliferation of mobile phones is starting to have a real impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Project Masiluleke in South Africa is using mobile phones to deliver health information directly to individuals. SMS text messages could increase treatment adherence for patients with HIV, tuberculosis and other diseases that require regular treatment. In the United States, sending a text message with your ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948) will allow you to find an HIV testing site near you.

It’s truly refreshing to feel that the possibilities are endless. Much of the general public’s knowledge of HIV focus on the devastating human impact of the epidemic. It is just as important to acknowledge that we do have the will and ability to fight back.

1 comment so far

  1. BethP on

    Thanks for the timely reminder about the power of hope and opportunity. I’d never heard of MDNet until now; it sounds like an amazing initiative.

    I also read a post yesterday in the same vein by Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, at:

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2008/s13/en/index.html

    The first thing she points out is that we are marking a major milestone in combatting the disease (read: HOPE!), as we continue to raise awareness and fight it.

    I work on the fundraising side of things, so I appreciated that she also discussed the importance of funding as part of the fight:

    “Leadership is needed to ensure that vigilance and diligence in responding to the epidemic remain steadfast. Despite the global financial crisis, funding absolutely must remain predictable, sustainable, and substantial. We must ensure that the current unprecedented rollout of treatment reaches more people and is fully sustainable. Stepping back or slowing down on treatment is not an acceptable option on ethical and humanitarian grounds.”


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