News about mobile phones and public health and safety
Filed under: HIV/AIDS, public health, social change | Tags: adherence, children's welfare, community mobilization, health communication, HIV, HIV awareness, mobile phones, public health surveillance, public safety, texting |
I have come across quite a few great applications of mobile phones and technology in the public health and safety that would be nice to share.
1) Promoting HIV awareness through soap opera vignettes
A campaign developed at Rutgers University’s School of Nursing has produced a series of soap opera vignettes that demonstrate safer sex and proper condom use. Researchers believe that mobile phones provide an ideal delivery system because they allow women privacy and multiple viewings. I think that the ease of propagating this campaign by word of mouth through forwarding will allow it to have a larger impact.
2) Protecting public safety at NFL games
The NFL has started a new service that will allow fans to text information about public disputes and disturbances in games so that they can be dispelled before escalating. Allison Fine at the Social Citizens blog speculates about future uses in creating safer communities by allowing citizens to safely report dangerous activities. While safe whistleblowing may open channels of communication somewhat, I think there is still a great deal of work to be done in increasing trust in and respect of authority if this were applied in the community context.
Hat tip: @socialcitizen on Twitter
3) Promoting adherence to DOTS, treatment for tuberculosis
Companies have finally started to realize the need for actively promoting adherence to DOTS, or directly observed treatment, short course, the recommended treatment for tuberculosis. DOTS requires that a health care worker directly supervise a patient that the drugs to treat the tuberculosis. However, due to a number of factors including a health care worker shortage and insufficient funds, this is not possible in many developing countries. Companies are working to increase access to mobile phones so that patients may receive text reminders to take medication.
Read The Lancet for more information.
4) Monitoring child growth and nutritional status in Malawi
Columbia University and UNICEF are the winners of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Development 2.0 Challenge. Their project will establish a “RapidSMS” system that will allow health care workers to use basic mobile phones to share information about child growth and nutritional status in Malawi. This will be an interesting one to watch to see if they can scale it to other countries and other populations. The dearth of current statistical health information of many developing countries, particularly in Africa, makes measuring success difficult and distributing much needed resources properly impossible.