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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid