The Cell Phone Cripples Malaria in Kenya
October 12th, 2012

Source. The mobile communication technology proves once again its usefulness in the realm of medical science. A study conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the journal Science used text messages sent in June 2008 and June 2009 from the mobile phones of 15 million Kenyan subscribers to track the origins and spreading patterns of malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills around 1 million people annually, 89% of these deaths occurring in Africa.

The cell phone technology helped with identifying and mapping a major mechanism of epidemic transmission by travel of humans from Lake Victoria, situated in the western edge of the country to Nairobi, its more central capital, thus revealing that the role of human carriers in the spreading of the parasite exceeds by far the flying limits of mosquitoes. This monitoring of human movement on a much larger scale by means of the unrelated mobile technology helps with gauging and understanding better the risk of infection.

And this is not the only benefit. Caroline Buckee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and the author of the Science study said that the same cell phone technology that identifies malaria hot spots could improve the approaches for controlling the disease by warning travelers via text messages to avoid such risky areas. In addition to this, mobile phones could also be used to target and use resources more efficiently in the fight against malaria.

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