Malaria Will Be The First Disease Beaten By Mobile
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
”Malaria will be the first disease beaten by mobile.” That’s what Martin Edlund, the CEO of Malaria No More, told the buzzing crowd during his Social Good Summit talk earlier today. Edlund and his organization view the mobile phone as a game-changer in the fight against malaria, a disease that killed 660,000 people last year – primarily women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Edlund explained that malaria “thrives on bad information” and lack of data. And mobile phones are helping connect the dots between all the other malaria-fighting tools. Bednets, diagnostic tests, cheap treatment, reliable drugs – key elements of eliminating malaria and reducing mortality and morbidity rates – are “turbocharged” through the use of mobile phones. By the end of 2015, there will be 1 billion mobile phones on the African continent.
So, what does fighting a disease with technology look like? And how does it work? Edlund cited a few examples of how Malaria No More leverages mobile phones to beat the disease. In addition to leveraging mobile technology, Malaria No More’s work hinges on bringing together key partners from all sectors. In Cameroon, for example, Malaria No More partnered with Exxon Mobile and MTN. Through the partnership, 6 million MTN subscribers would receive health related public service announcements. Didier Drogba, a star football player in Sub-Saharan Africa, signed his name on text messages dispatched to the millions of subscribers – “its 9pm – are you and your family safely sleeping under your net?” The results speak for themselves – a 12% increase in bednet use, which translates into 500,000 people sleeping under their nets who otherwise may be getting a potentially deadly mosquito bite. Indeed, as Edlund noted, better information and social communications has helped support an overall 33% decline in malaria mortality rates over the last 7 years – a dramatic improvement, but still a long way to go.