News / USA

Physician Uses Cell Phones to Bring Health Care to the Poor

Joel Selanikio
Joel Selanikio

Epidemiologist Joel Selanikio has used the explosion in mobile phone technology and the World Wide Web to deliver more effective public health services throughout the developing world.  Dr. Selanikio and his organization DataDyne.org are making a difference by improving the medical information available to public health programs in under-served areas of the world.  VOA has a profile for this week's Making a Difference series.

In Africa there is  another use for mobile phones.  Public Health workers in Kenya are now using mobile phones to gather health information from patients in remote areas and upload it to the internet for instant analysis at distant centers.

And it is all happening thanks to Dr. Joel Selanikio. "You can really make a difference using just common modern information technologies," he said.

Dr. Selanikio first noticed the need to better use information technology for health care while working as a disease outbrake investigator for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I began to take the first steps toward using things like pocket computers or PDAs [i.e., personal digital assistants] for doing field work," Selanikio said.

Dr. Selanikio left his position five years ago to co-found DataDyne.org with partner Rosa Donna -- as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing sustainable information technologies in poor areas.  And with financial support from the United Nations Foundation and the Vodaphone Foundation, Selanikio developed EpiSurveyor -- a free, mobile, Web-based and open-source data collection tool that is transforming the way public health is practiced in under-served areas of the world.

EpiSurveyor replaces cumbersome and costly paper-based data collection that can take months, and sometimes years to produce results.

"Instead of collecting data today to plan for a campaign next year, changing from that to collecting data today to plan for what we do tomorrow," Selanikio explained. "That is a pretty radical change."

Public health relies on the rapid collection of accurate data to track disease outbreaks, monitor vaccine supplies and other similar functions.

"The issue of flexibility, we need that," Data Manager Yusuf Ajack Ibrahim said. Ajack is with Kenya's Health and Sanitation Ministry and saw EpiSurveyor at work when a polio outbreak in 2006 was quickly contained, saving the lives of perhaps hundreds of children. "If you are to respond to an outbreak, I cannot wait for somebody to come all the way from the United States," he said.

This year, Joel Selanikio received the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability in recognition of these innovations.  EpiSurveyor is being used by more than 500 organizations in more than 100 countries, and it is being adopted for use in areas such as agriculture and public opinion polling.

(This video report was narrated by Francis Alanzo)

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid