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Using Mobile Phones To Fight AIDS In Africa

Chongo Kabange

HONG KONG - Mobile phones are transforming the way
HIV test results are being transmitted to AIDS patients in Africa, a study has

AIDS is one of the biggest diseases affecting the continent
due to limited access to antiretroviral treatment and heath care.

AIDS related deaths account for close to 60% of all
total deaths annually and mobile phone penetration has doubled over the last 10

It is for these reasons that the World Health
Organisation (WHO) embarked on an investigation to determine whether mobile
phone technology could be used to transform the delivery of health care
services to AIDS patients in Africa.

A WHO backed study published in the agency’s
Bulletin, said the time it took to relay HIV test results to patients’ health
facilities could be “dramatically” reduced by using mobile phone text

Scientists who carried out the study in Zambia
found that the turnaround times for delivering a diagnosis by SMS (Short
Message Service) were almost twice as fast compared to traditional postal

The average time for a result notification from a
testing lab to a health facility fell from 44.2 days to 26.7 days.  

“We believe that this research signals how the processes
behind testing of HIV and other illnesses can be transformed and improved
through mobile phone technology, ensuring that healthcare facilities and
patients are provided with their results far more quickly,” said Phil
Seidenberg of Boston University in the U.S, one of the authors of the research
that was jointly conducted with the Zambia Centre for Applied Health Research
and Development and the Zambian Ministry of Health.

E-health, where digital technology is used to
support health systems and m-health, where mobile phones and tablet computers
are used are seen as key to improving healthcare in the near future.

In addition to decreasing turnaround time for HIV
testing, these technologies can also improve treatment by getting people onto
ART earlier, researchers said in a news statement.

“As more people use mobile phone technology in
Africa, more opportunities arise to harness e-health and m-health in support of
the expansion of earlier ART for HIV, and to retain people on ART, particularly
mothers and children,” said Dr Reuben Granich, Medical Officer in WHOs
Department of HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF in Zambia and the researchers developed the
study to address concerns that the slow transmission of test results led to
critical delays in children accessing treatment.

Product Id: 100129
Posted By: Sanday Chongo Kabange
Country: Zambia
Category: Politics
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