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mHealth Helps HIV-Positive Mothers and Their Newborns Fight HIV/AIDS

We continue to highlight innovative and life-saving applications that mobile devices can provide for people around the world. Today’s focus is on a recent story by Fast Company about Project Mwana, an initiative by UNICEF to increase mothers' visits to clinics by 25 percent by January 2012. Goal number one is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

Through RemindMi and Results160 project, wireless devices and text messaging are playing a major role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. While RemindMi sends a reminder text message (SMS) six weeks after a baby’s birth to community health workers when infants of HIV-positive mothers need to be tested for HIV, the Result160 project focuses on real-time SMS of the results to the clinical workers.

Since there are only three labs in the Zambia and Malawi area, the HIV/AIDS tests normally have a turnaround time of three to four months. Thanks to the Results160 project, the waiting time is cut in half because the infant’s results can be sent quickly to the community health care workers. In the 10 weeks since the Results160 project has been implemented, UNICEF has already delivered more that 800 results to people in northern Zambia. As a result, infants can get the medical attention they need faster.

With the increase in wireless usage in Africa and more than 6,000 people every day dying from AIDS, mobile technology is an important tool for organizations like UNICEF to try to improve the health and stop the spread of the disease.

For more information on how UNICEF’s programs to fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, please visit http://www.unicef.org/aids/index.html. To learn more about Project Mwana intiative, please visit http://projectmwana.posterous.com/.

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