HP uses cell phones to fight malaria

HP and PING partner up to use cell phones to fight malaria.

Hewlett-Packard and the nonprofit Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING) have teamed up to fight malaria. Malaria is a deadly disease, but it can be prevented through timely diagnosis and treatment. Statistics for 2008, the the most recent year available, show that malaria caused almost one million deaths, mostly in children, reported the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Paul Ellingstad, Director of Health Initiatives for HP's Office of Social Innovation, the partnership has provided health-care workers in Botswana with HP Palm Pre 2 cell phones. Ellingstad explained that the cell phones allow workers to gather malaria data in a timely fashion to the appropriate health authorities. Ellingstad said that health-care workers can use this technology to tag data with pictures, video, and audio.

"This information can help officials and doctors deter a huge malaria outbreak as it begins spreading through an area," said Ellingstad.

At the time of a malaria outbreak, health-care workers can notify the appropriate health authorities via a text.

In an interview with SmartPlanet, Ellingstad explained that the program is in the beginning pilot stages. According to Ellingstad, the program has been running for the past three months, and the program will continue throughout the year.

"In addition to surveillance, we're also looking at how can we use this combination of mobile technology and back-end cloud as not just a prevention program, but an education program," said Ellingstad.

In a press release, Katy Digovich, Ping's director of Operations, said,

“We’re focused on addressing health and development problems by not only using technology in an innovative way, but also by creating more problem solvers in the local population. By combining our socially active core with innovation and business acumen from HP, and the scale of government organizations, we can achieve the greatest opportunity for lasting social change.”

At the moment, the program is limited to Botswana, but ultimately the program would like to expand to include other regions. As the program expands, HP plans to use this technology to track tuberculosis and conduct additional HIV testing.

Images: HP

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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