Cell Phones Control Malaria in Rural Bangladesh

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According to a report in the Malaria Journal, published on February 4, 2013, cell phones can control malaria in rural Bangladesh. Cell phones help healthcare professionals detect cases of malaria and provide treatment to patients, as seen in the case of the Bandarban district in rural Bangladesh.

The Government of Bangladesh collaborated with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research and The Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute and initiated a project called ‘Mapping Malaria Epidemiology in Bangladesh’ in 2009 and successfully tested the utility of cell phones in managing the disease.

In this south-eastern region of Bangladesh, noted for hypoendemic malaria, residents made 986 cell phone calls to health care workers on the basis of signs understood to be related to malaria. The calls were received through June 2010 and June 2012.

Based on the cell phone calls, professionals visited homes where patient-suspects lived and collected 1046 blood samples. 265 people or 25% of patients tested for malaria were diagnosed with the disease. Out of 509 cases of symptomatic malaria that were tested, 52% or 265 people received early diagnosis because of early detection. Availability of cell phones made this early treatment possible.

Cell phones connect patients in rural areas with healthcare professionals and make medical help accessible because healthcare workers receive notification from prospective patients when the latter develop symptoms of the disease. Cell phones make healthcare accessible by bringing notified professionals to the doorstep of patients in rural and remote areas.

Cell phones make healthcare accessible by bringing notified professionals to the doorstep of patients in rural and remote areas. Similar cell phone programs have been used in Bangladesh to facilitate care of asthma, HIV-AIDS, and diabetes patients.

Hopefully, as in rural Bangladesh, more programs connecting patients with healthcare professionals through cell phones can control malaria.

– Mantra Roy

Source: Malaria Journal
Photo: Flickr

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