Africa em­braces mo­bile app health revo­lu­tion

Africa Renewal - - Africa Wired - By Ying M. Zhao-Hie­mann

The ap­pli­ca­tion of mo­bile tech­nolo­gies in Africa’s health­care sys­tem, pop­u­larly known as mHealth, has gained mo­men­tum in re­cent months. Nige­ria, the re­gion’s most pop­u­lous coun­try, for ex­am­ple, man­aged to con­tain the deadly Ebola virus in Oc­to­ber 2014 partly due to the ap­pli­ca­tion of mHealth. Nige­rian health of­fi­cials at­tribute the suc­cess to fast com­mu­ni­ca­tion and in­stant track­ing made pos­si­ble by the proac­tive use of mo­bile phone tech­nol­ogy. by UNICEF In­no­va­tion Labs and Nyu­ruka - a Rwan­dan soft­ware firm. mHero (Mo­bile Health Worker Ebola Re­sponse and Out­reach), one of the apps on RapidPro, is cur­rently be­ing used in Liberia in support of lo­cal ef­forts to com­bat Ebola. The app re­ports on new cases, broad­casts mes­sages about care and preven­tion and shares train­ing in­for­ma­tion, thereby al­low­ing real-time co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the health min­istry and front­line health work­ers.

“Emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies can fa­cil­i­tate early warn­ing sys­tems, out­break re­sponse, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween health­care providers, wildlife vet­eri­nar­i­ans and other an­i­mal health pro­fes­sion­als, lo­cal and na­tional health au­thor­i­ties, and in­ter­na­tional health agen­cies,” wrote Rashid An­sumana, Jesse Bon­witt, David A. Stenger and Kathryn H. Ja­cob­sen, four Sierra Leone-based re­searchers in the med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet.

While the ap­pli­ca­tion of mo­bile tech­nolo­gies in Ebola re­sponse is cur­rently in the spot­light, mHeath apps could also po­ten­tially ad­dress other im­por­tant pub­lic health is­sues, such as HIV/AIDS, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, malaria and ma­ter­nal health, ac­cord­ing to a study by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In Zam­bia, for in­stance, U-Re­port, another UNICEF mHealth tool, uses sim­ple text mes­sages and ba­sic mo­bile phones to link peo­ple to the re­sources of the Na­tional AIDS Coun­cil. UNICEF and the health min­istry rely on the SMS tool to spread mes­sages about HIV/AIDS. Since its ini­tial launch in 2012, over 50,000 young peo­ple have been re­ferred to anony­mous coun­selling ser­vices, and vol­un­tary test­ing among U-re­porters has reached 40%, which is sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the 24% na­tional av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to UNICEF.

UNICEF Zam­bia/2013/Maseko

Young Zam­bians can now re­ceive and share in­for­ma­tion on HIV/AIDS and other STIs through their mo­bile phones.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.