January 12, 2015 | 0 comments

In Malawi, basic mobile phones – not the latest smartphones – are making people healthier. Text messages have improved the diagnosis and treatment of children with HIV – instead of human “carriers”, laboratory results and treatment instructions are reaching healthcare workers via text in a much faster and more efficient system. Health workers also use text messaging to relay treatment outcomes to officials, enabling decision makers to monitor data and keep track of progress or lack there of treatment programmes and make necessary adjustments.

In Liberia, text messages became a key element in fighting the deadly Ebola outbreak recently. Aid workers sent text messages to a group of teenagers from the Liberian capital, Monrovia telling them how to sign up for Ebola alerts, giving them access to information that could potentially help them. The teenagers replied, asking for ways they can avoid getting the disease. Through the exchange of such texts, aid workers were able to track infected areas.

In Uganda, some 280,000 children have access to their government through texting – their input even prompted positive changes in legislation. In Nigeria, text messages have enabled some seven million births to be registered – a vast improvement from the situation...