Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cell Phones Helping Reduce Infant Mortality

Pesinet, an agency that combines mobile health and insurance, is using cell phones to reduce child mortality in Mali, as more phone-based initiatives bring healthcare into impoverished areas.

Mali has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates, with more than 110 deaths for every 1,000 live births in the country, and nearly 200 out of every 1,000 children dying before age 5. These high figures prompted creation of the non-profit Pesinet, which uses mobile technology to provide regular health checkups and affordable health insurance for young children in Bamako, Mali's capital.

Pesinet covers about 600 children. Families pay a small monthly fee to enroll children in the program, which covers medical examinations and half the cost of medications needed to treat a sick child.

The agency focuses on preventive care. Community health workers test children weekly for symptoms of illness, including fever, cough, diarrhea, weight loss or vomiting. They then enter data from the weekly checkups into a custom-designed app on their mobile phones.

 An infant at a Persinet weigh-in.

The data is sent via GPRS to an online database, where doctors review it for signs of sudden, troublesome changes in health status. If changes are found, community health workers get an alert on their phones and communicate with the child's family to arrange for the child to receive proper treatment.

To find out more or to support Pesinet, please visit their website.