Fighting malaria in Cambodia with Google Earth and SMS

Fighting malaria in Cambodia with Google Earth and SMS
Malaria is a nasty mosquito borne disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. For those the disease does not kill, it is an unpleasant fever and headache, and there is no vaccine. In Cambodia, a virulent strain is finding its way across the region and it is resistant to drug treatment.

Enter the Cambodian villagers armed with mobile phones. Their role is to report new suspected cases so that treatment and containment may be rendered as quickly as possible. Cambodia has established a dedicated text messaging service to alert health officials of new cases of the disease.

The good news is that Cambodia is getting very good at fighting the disease. In 2011, there were over 108,000 reported cases, of which 96 were fatal. That is an impressive success rate when you consider the disease kills well over 600,000 people every year.

Now, with this drug resistant strain making its way through the area, the SMS alerts are proving critical in targeting treatment in remote areas of the country. Once the text alerts are received, cases are plotted using Google Earth and then resources are allocated. With this reporting mechanism in place, officials have literally made a quantum leap in reporting times. The process used to take a month.

The SIM cards are provided for free by Mobitel and the initiative is part of a broader malaria containment project which has received significant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The SMS program is well underway with 230 volunteers using the system, and there are plans to expand it to all volunteers in the project.

source: Agence France-Presse via Yahoo!

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