Malaria — the first disease beaten by mobile?
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The fight against malaria, one of the world’s most killer diseases, urgently needs an injection of mobile technology.
“Malaria threatens half the globe. By some accounts it has killed more people than any other cause in human history,” Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, told Devex at the Social Good Summit in New York.
The organization — founded by U.N. special envoy for the disease Ray Chambers — has just launched its new “Power of One” campaign, which links mobile phones around the world with a tracking program for malaria testing and treatment supplies, so individuals can track the impact of their charitable donations.
Edlund is is optimistic about the prospects of eradicating the disease and believes mobile technology can help overcome the “bad” information that has plagued similar initiatives for decades. He also discussed his hopes for a robust replenishment of the Global Fund, a process already underway with major donor announcements in recent weeks.
Here is some excerpts from our conversation in New York:
You are optimistic about the role mobile technology can play in fighting malaria. Why is mobile the missing piece in a global health fight that has gone on for years?
Malaria can be the first disease beaten by mobile. Malaria has always thrived on bad information. Even the word “malaria” is a misnomer. It’s an Italian word that actually means “poisonous or unwholesome air,” because that’s how they thought malaria was transmitted. It wasn’t until 1897 that the guy who would ultimately win the Nobel Prize for this, Dr. Laveran, discovered the parasite from the belly of a mosquito. When you look at the challenges we face in malaria, misinformation is at the core of so many of them. By contrast, good information, enabled by mobile, is how we’re going to solve those problems.