Breaking News

Texting your way to health

by Jocelyne Sambira
15 February 2013 | 3495 Views

Message telling you when and how to take your diabetes medication. Or a voice mail reminding you of your next mammogram. That's what two UN agencies are hoping to do with mobile technology to save lives, reduce illness and disability and bring down healthcare costs.

Increased access to communications technologies has given rise to the concept of "mobile health," or mHealth, involving the use of mobile phones for healthcare purposes. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are currently testing mobile solutions to help people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cardiovascular maladies, respiratory diseases and cancer to better manage their conditions. The agencies also hope to encourage people to quit smoking, exercise more and eat healthier.

An estimated 36 million people die every year from NCDs in both developed and developing countries alike, according to WHO. They also account for a major share of health care needs and expenditures. In the next decade deaths from NCDs in Africa will jump by 24 per cent, the agency forecasts.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré believes that these diseases can be controlled through the intervention of mHealth initiatives. "Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control," he said. "The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health" (which includes computer, Web, mobile phone and other electronic technologies). He was speaking in Dubai at Telecom World 2012, a yearly event at which experts, policy makers and leaders come together to share ideas on the future of global telecommunications.

The initiative builds on current projects like WHO's use of mobile devices to gather data on tobacco use in 17 countries, covering half the world's population. Mobile phones have also been shown to help health care providers offer better care and deter harmful practices. In Kenya, according to a recent study, government health care workers were sent text messages coaching them on the proper malaria-treatment protocol. Health clinic workers can send alerts when they run low on medications to avoid stock shortages.

By early 2012, says ITU, there were more than 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, with developing countries accounting for the lion's share of growth. In that context, mHealth could be one of the best ways to reach huge numbers of patients and care providers.




However, warns Harsha Thirumurthy, an economist whose research focuses on the link between health and economic outcomes in low-income settings, several aspects of the mHealth interventions warrant further research. In the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, he and Richard T. Lester strongly recommend a more thorough investigation of how text-messaging interventions compare with other interventions such as feeding programmes or home visits by community workers. They also bring up issues of cost — who will foot the bill remains unclear. If not the health care providers, are patients willing to pay for the service? Furthermore, it remains to be seen if mHealth can help induce behavioural change and get people to better adhere to treatment regimens for diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.



Texting health


Disclaimer:
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Source: Africa Renewal www.un.org

Do you agree that foreskins of circumcised men could be used for witchcraft?

Yes
51.23%
No
13.58%
Hogwash
35.19%
162

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

Kombi hit from behind rolls 5 times, two die - WhatsApp update

by Concerned citizen | 23 July 2014 | 705 Views

Traffic cop jumps on bonnet of moving taxi at roadblock - WhatsApp update

by Concerned citizen | 23 July 2014 | 1079 Views

Zimra misses revenue target - LOW capacity utilisation in industry and...

by Oliver Kazunga | 23 July 2014 | 338 Views

Prophet demands 50 beasts

by Court Reporter | 23 July 2014 | 971 Views

'Sangoma advised me to smoke dagga,' says HIV+ man

by Mpumelelo Nyoni | 23 July 2014 | 630 Views

War vet wants open debate on VP's post - FORMER Matabeleland South pro...

by Nduduzo Tshuma | 23 July 2014 | 654 Views

Woman, baby killed after rape - A CHIREDZI woman was found dead with s...

by Walter Mswazie | 23 July 2014 | 991 Views

Pregnant woman missing - A MAN from Bulawayo's Hillside suburb is look...

by Staff reporter | 23 July 2014 | 873 Views

Scramble for Zimbabwean citizenship

by Zvamaida Murwira | 23 July 2014 | 1362 Views

Fighting over positions in Zanu PF is fight over an HIV positive widow...

by Wilbert Mukori | 23 July 2014 | 2670 Views

ZRP on Chihuri motorcade warning - The Zimbabwe Republic Police have i...

by Staff Reporter | 22 July 2014 | 3044 Views

Mugabe snubs Dabengwa - President Robert Mugabe has removed Zapu l...

by Staff Reporter | 22 July 2014 | 4394 Views

MDC-T constitutional amendments appearing in the media are false - Pre...

by Douglas Mwonzora | 22 July 2014 | 1021 Views

Afghanistan shock Zimbabwe - Afghanistan have shocked Zimbabwe, winnin...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1630 Views

Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF seniority claim dismissed - The Zanu-PF informatio...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1877 Views

Botswana-based Zimbabweans want to remain - A Crisis in Zimbabwe Coali...

by Mthulisi Mathuthu | 22 July 2014 | 1346 Views

Nigerian Ambassador to Zim bids Mugabe farewell - The outgoing Nigeri...

by Staff Reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1395 Views

37 freedom fighters exhumed from mine shaft - Remains of 37 freedom f...

by Staff Reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1577 Views

Zanu-PF supporter burns down 35 houses - report - The Movement for Dem...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 2295 Views

Satanist openly declares to kill Zimbabweans - A self-confessed Satani...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 4108 Views

Prophet Magaya's anointing oil hits black market - DESPERATE unemploye...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 3058 Views

Ovidy Karuru signs for Kaizer Chiefs - WARRIORS midfielder Ovidy Karur...

by Sports reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1487 Views

Tsvangirai goes the Robert Mugabe way - THE opposition MDC-T, in a mov...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 2125 Views

Ncube sets record straight - Here is my response to reports that have ...

by Trevor Ncube | 22 July 2014 | 1934 Views

Innscor to retrench Bulawayo employees

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1565 Views

Chibuku offsets decline in lagers for Delta Beverages - Delta's three ...

by Business reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1110 Views

Entertainment

Beyonce and Jay Z to separate - claims - Jay Z and Beyonce are reporte...

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2014 | 1896 Views

No talent is meant for the grave, Dr Nkomo Commemoration - The prepara...

by Nokutula Ncube | 22 July 2014 | 790 Views

Miss Curvy dinner flops

by Yeukai Karengezeka | 21 July 2014 | 4201 Views

'He's going to be in trouble once I die' says DJ Cleo's father - 64-ye...

by Staff reporter | 20 July 2014 | 4989 Views

Tsholotsho King reigns supreme

by Vusumuzi Ndlovu | 19 July 2014 | 4099 Views

Controversial Tin Tin vexed by lost BBA chance - Actress and former ra...

by Staff reporter | 19 July 2014 | 3728 Views

Zimbabwe artistes set for Afripraise UK Gospel Music Festival

by Blessed Kapesa | 19 July 2014 | 1755 Views

Born to Bulawayo parents, 11-year-old star shines in UK talent show

by Staff Reporter | 18 July 2014 | 6149 Views