Mobiles to help track diseases

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mobile phone technology is being developed to help manage the spread of diseases such as HIV and bird flu.

The software is designed to allow field workers using handsets to send and receive data on disease outbreaks along with patient and drug information.

The project is a collaboration between technology firm Voxiva and the trade association for mobile operators, GSMA.

Trials of the relatively low-cost application are underway in Rwanda, Africa and in Indonesia.

The program works by sending the data through the general packet radio service (GPRS) network, and if this is unavailable, it can divert to an SMS data channel, normally used for text messages.

It is programmed using java language, so can work across different handsets and operators.

This means a doctor working in the field can send information to a central database about how many people are affected by a disease, patient status, drug inventory levels and receive information such as alerts, treatment guidelines or lab test results.

Ben Soppitt, director of strategic initiatives, GSMA, said: “This will allow health officials to see real-time accurate data on the status of the healthcare system in their country so they can make informed decisions about where those resources are applied.”

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Source: BBC News World Edition (link opens in a new window)