A Big Announcement on Mobile Phones and Global Public Health

Regular readers of this blog know that we have been following the work of DataDyne–the nonprofit (sponsored by the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation) that developed a software application for mobile phone devices that enables public health workers in developing countries to collect data more efficiently. Yesterday, the UN Foundation (which sponsors this blog) and the Vodafone Foundation, together with the World Health Organization announced that its EpiSurveyor program will expand to 22 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of the year.

Over on the ZDNet blog Tech for Change, a Kenyan public health worker who participated in the EpiSurveyor pilot program last year describes how this technology made his work much, much easier.

It used to be that much of this work was done on paper, but following a pilot project that took place in 2007 that is beginning to change. I was a participant in the pilot PDA project using EpiSurveyor–an open-source software for mobile devices–to support our data collection activities in the country. The pilot was led by the non-profit organization DataDyne, and funded by the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation partnership.

This technology brings much greater efficiency to what I do. Being able to electronically collect health data means that I don’t have to use paper, recording survey data with a pen, and filling out numerous forms and questionnaires. I just input the data into the PDA and then synchronize it to the computer to be analyzed.

An employee of DataDyne who helped train health workers in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo also explains why this technology is so significant.

In related news the San Jose, California based Tech Museum of Innovation announced yesterday that it had named DataDyne a 2008 Tech Awards laureate for its groundbreaking work with EpiSurveyor. Congrats!