Mobile phones and healthcare in Africa.

Increasingly, mobile phones are being seen as a supportive tool for distributing higher quality healthcare in Africa. Data collection, for example, can be used to check the spread of diseases.

In the February 2007 newsletter of The United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the organization announced a large scale effort to use mobile phones in the fight against AIDS-starting in Rwanda and Nigeria in 2007.

The primary application will be data collection. PEPFAR says that land lines in Africa are rare, and paper forms are the standard for distributing epidemiological data. Mobile phone coverage of the African population is expected to grow from 60 percent currently to 85 percent by 2010.

"This makes it feasible to use mobile phones to relay this information directly into health authorities' computer systems, allowing rapid interventions such as distribution of medication and education programs for those at risk," says PEPFAR.

A different application of mobile phone technology comes from Cape Town South Africa where the local Health Directorate is battling one of the most serious outbreaks of tuberculosis (TB) on the continent.

A May 6, 2005 posting on the OneWorld Africa website says that the Health Directorate is using mobile phone technology to ensure TB patients take their medications regularly. Highly infectious TB is treatable...

To continue reading