How to combat malaria with mobile phones
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Martin Edlund likes to say that malaria may one day be the first disease beaten by mobile phones. Yes, he happens to be the CEO of the non-profit Malaria No More, so he has to say stuff like that. But no, it’s not a total pipedream.
Africa, where malaria kills around 400,000 children every year, is set to top 1 billion mobile phone subscriptions by next year. That means that public health researchers will have one billion ways to communicate with — and collect data from — the people who are most at risk of catching malaria, a disease that has traditionally been extremely difficult to track.
“Lack of information and data is why this is among one of the deadliest diseases on the planet,” Edlund says. And he believes mobile phones could change all that.
He’s not the only one. On Friday, Google.org, the search giant’s philanthropic arm, announced that it’s giving Malaria No More a $600,000 grant to embark on a potentially transformative data mining project in Nigeria. The grant is part of a pot of $15 million (£10 million) that Google.org is doling out to organisations that use technology to solve the world’s biggest problems.