The Cloud-Based Tool Improving Healthcare Across the Developing World
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Health care delivery is an issue everywhere, but it’s particularly challenging in the developing world. Expired medicines, broken equipment, unreliable electricity, and a lack of even the most basic supplies are everyday issues for medical practitioners.
“Fortunate hospitals can get regular shipments, but when those shipments end, the shelves are bare once more. Health care, especially rural health care, is in an appalling state in many countries because the government has abdicated its job of financing it,”writes Tina Rosenberg for the New York Times’ “Fixes” blog.
Enter Reliefwatch, a for-profit social enterprise developed by Daniel Yu, a finalist in this year’s Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards. Reliefwatch is offered to health centres in emerging markets. It is a cloud-based tool to track both essential medical supplies and outbreaks of infectious diseases. No direct government support is needed and no internet connection or costly equipment is required. The tool uses SMS and voice calls instead.
“The vast majority of health clinics in the developing world don’t have access to computers or the internet. As a result, they don’t have information systems in place to keep track of what they have,” said Yu. “When the clinic runs out of a particular drug or medicine, the supplier doesn’t know about that. In the meantime, anyone who comes in and needs that particular medicine is essentially out of luck. It’s a big problem.
“What we do is integrate our solution with the technology they do have: basic mobile phones. More than 90% of people in the developing world have a mobile phone. In fact, more people have a mobile phone than have access to running water.”