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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Texting becomes a health tool in Kenya

Joe DeCapua of voanews.com writes:

Mobile phone use in Africa has spread far, wide and fast. By the end of last year, it was estimated that 70 percent of the population would have a mobile phone. Now, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it’s using the technology to save lives.

In Kenya, the IFRC has developed the Rapid Mobile Phone-based survey, otherwise known as RAMP. It allows the medical aid group to learn a lot about the health of people in remote, rural communities in very little time.

Jason Peat, the senior health officer for malaria, says the idea for the survey came from IFRC volunteers.

“There are volunteers using those mobile phones to communicate. They’re doing it two ways. They’re using them as a regular phone, but more often than not we see them use the phones to send text messages back and forth because they’re a very inexpensive way to communicate. Red Cross volunteers and other community health workers at a very local level were already figuring out a way to manage activities, to manage programs and not just health programs, but all programs using mobile phones,” he said.

Volunteers use RAMP to collect data on such things as antenatal and newborn care, immunizations, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and other health issues. Peat says the mobile phone survey has sharply reduced costs. It’s 10 times cheaper compared to the old clipboard method.  And it saves a lot of time.

“It’s incredibly quick,” said Peat, “I mean we have a data bulletin in 24 hours, where it took us months to generate a data bulletin before. And we can have a written report within three days. I mean to be straight, it requires a person sitting behind a computer and putting in a full day. But in all the RAMPS we’ve done to date, we’ve had a data bulletin out in 24 hours and we’ve had the first draft of the survey report out in three days.”

The faster the information is gathered, the faster the response.

“This tool allows us very quickly to get to the root of the issue. It allows us to say immediately these are where we have problems. These are where we want to change the health indicators. And this tool gives us that data and the nice thing about it is you can monitor progress very quickly,” he said.

The World Health Organization and top epidemiologists helped the Red Cross develop RAMP. The mobile phone survey is being used to help Kenya and other African countries reach the Millennium Development Goals on health. The target date for the MDGs is 2015

Listen to Joe De Capua report on the Red Cross mobile phone survey

Originally published on voanews.com

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Opinion Articles

Whatever happened to all my tech?

Whatever happened to all my tech?

Mark Bridge revisits his mobile technology reviews

Mark Bridge writes:

I've been taking a look back at the devices I've written about during the past few years. Some are still faithful companions, others... well, let's just say my faith was misplaced.
Author: The Fonecast
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Predictions for 2016: Network Function Virtualisation, 4G throttling and video calling

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He says next year will be a year of rapid change for telecoms… whether it’s MVNO disruption, competitive tariff pricing or simply defence from the ‘dark art’ of hacking.

Author: The Fonecast
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Kapture review: the audio-recording wristband

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A 'recording watch' that links to your smartphone

Mark Bridge writes:

The most memorable moments in life often go unrecorded. You don't have your camera in your hands. Your finger is still hovering over the 'pause' button on your audio recorder. Or you were simply too busy experiencing whatever was happening. It's all about the one that got away.

That's where Kapture can help.

Author: The Fonecast
4 Comments
Article rating: 4.0
Making mobile websites work better

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Mark Bridge writes:

James Rosewell shows me a colourful roll of paper that's the width of an iPhone but well over three metres long. When I look closer, I can see it's a printed copy of the Wall Street Journal's mobile website. That's a lot of scrolling to do... and a pretty unfriendly user experience for anyone reading the news online. Why does it work so badly?

Author: The Fonecast
1 Comments
Article rating: 4.0

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Here’s an edited transcript of our new monthly podcast, broadcast on 30th January 2015.

[Iain Graham]: Hello, it's Friday 30th January 2015. Welcome to this month's edition of The Fonecast. That’s right, you heard correctly: we’ve temporarily moved to a monthly format. If you’d like to join 51Degrees in sponsoring the podcast and returning us to weekly programmes, please get in touch via our website. Now, on with the show.

Author: The Fonecast
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Article rating: 5.0
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