Archive for the ‘mobile phones’ Tag

News about mobile phones and public health and safety

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.

Hat tip: @DigiActive on Twitter and on the Web

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.


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.

Interesting Links of the Week

Nonprofit Link of the Week

Young nonprofit professionals, take note. Heather Carpenter at Nonprofit Leadership 601 highlights reasons why graduate school is still a good choice for nonprofit professional development.

Public Health Link of the Week

Technology, Health and Development has done a wonderful job aggregating links of the growing uses of mobile phones in global health. This week was Part II and they intend to have a third follow up as well. Mobile phones and health promises to deliver some interesting innovations in helping the poorest of the poor have access to quality health care.

Social Media Link of the Week

Viewzi makes searching the Web visually appealing and interesting. I kind of see this site as a mashup of StumbleUpon and Google. It may not have the perfect search algorithms, but it could be interesting to stumble across media and other materials that are related to what you are looking for.

Video of the Week

Music for Life and Red Cross teamed up together to produce a campaign to raise funds to increase access to drinkable water. I think it is a creative campaign using viral techniques on mainstream media to raise awareness. Check out the video below to learn more.