This is the kind of corporate social responsibility that's great to see -- technology answering a pressing social need. Vodafone has teamed up with the United Nations and the Rockerfeller Foundation's mHealth Alliance to connect the use of mobile phones to healthcare in the developing world.
mHealth Alliance uses the technology to provide virtual doctors to those living in rural areas, particularly in India, Uganda and South Africa. Mobile devices allow for:
- Sending mobile phone owners updates on diseases via SMS.
- Letting health workers in Uganda log data on mobile devices from the field.
- In South Africa, the SIMpill is a sensor-equipped pill bottle with a SIM card that informs doctors whether patients are taking their tuberculosis medicine.
- In Uganda, a multiple-choice quiz about HIV/AIDS was sent to 15,000 subscribers inviting them to answer questions and seek tests. Those who completed the quiz were given free airtime minutes. At the end of the quiz, a final SMS encouraged participants to go for voluntary testing. The number of people who did so increased from 1000 to 1400 over a 6-week period.
- In the Amazonas state of Brazil, health workers filled in surveys on their phones about the incidences of mosquito-borne dengue fever.
- In Mexico, a medical hotline called MedicallHome lets patients send medical questions via SMS.
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