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How Your Old Cell Phones Can Save Lives

June 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

This article guides you how your old cell phones can save lives. Here we go:


Watch: Interview with Josh Nesbit of Frontline SMS

Delivering health care in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa, is critical but the difficulties health personnel face are quite daunting. Health workers have to travel hundreds of miles each week while patients have to walk barefoot for miles and miles of dirt road to consult with a health professional.

Thanks to an enterprising young American, things are looking up a bit. Four years ago, Josh Nesbit decided to travel to Africa and volunteer at St. Gabriel’s Hospital for children with AIDS in Malawi.

Josh realized that pairing technology with the existing health center infrastructure using text messaging can bring tremendous improvement to the way health care was delivered to patients. What was needed was a network of cell phones to help doctors and health workers monitor patients without traveling long distances, saving on fuel and manpower hours.

Josh eventually collaborated with Ken Banks, a software developer, and with other engineers at Stanford. Ken had created an open-source software platform which can be easily adapted to host the kind of network that Joshua envisioned.

Equipped with the software, a laptop, and 100 donated used cell phones, Josh went back to Malawi to set up the network. The program was an astounding success as the hospital was now able to help more patients and deliver diagnostic and emergency services faster through texting.

In the four years since that pilot project in Malawi, similar programs were also implemented in other countries like Uganda and Cameroon. In Haiti, the network they created was instrumental in saving lives by providing communications between relief workers and thousands of people injured or isolated by the devastating earthquake.

They’ve started a nonprofit called Medic Mobile and that’s where you can donate your used cell phones if you want to help with this initiative.

You can also donate cell phones to other charities and nonprofits through Pacebutler Corporation.

Tags: Donate Cell Phones