Cellphones Can Reverse Poverty
Prof. Monish Gunawardana. New Era July 14, 2006
As part of a consideration of the economic impact a cell phone can have on an impoverished country, this provocative article discusses that implement’s role in HIV treatment.
Nearly 20 percent of the population in Namibia, most of whom live in remote areas, is HIV positive and require treatment, including anti-retroviral medications, counseling, and related services.
Around 50,000 Namibians, in a total population of 1.8million, already own cell phones. More importantly, a simple cell phone, unlike fixed line phones, is affordable for the poor. [tag]cost[/tag] [While the photo below was not taken in Namibia, the scene is in another African country that is also impoverished and that also has a large portion of its population infected with HIV.]
The Potential Impact
A cell phone can be used to gather treatment plan instructions, relay lab and diagnostic information, and monitor adherence. In a country where patients routinely live long distances from treatment centers and transportation services are unreliable and expensive, a focus on home based care is logical and, with the aid of cell phones, possible.
A primary aspect of compliance enhancement is removing hurdles to adherence. Sometimes, this can be accomplished straightforwardly (e.g., by lowering the price of the medications needed for the treatment of HIV). Sometimes, however, new directions and the use of technology developed in areas other than healthcare are equally effective.