How Your Discarded Phone Can Improve Global Health

It can send texts, and one advocate says the Third World can benefit
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2011 10:50 AM CDT
Old cellphones can improve health care in developing nations for one simple reason, says an advocate: They can send texts.   (

(Newser) – Text messages could be the key to successful health care in poor countries. At least 24-year-old Josh Nesbit thinks so. He's the CEO of nonprofit startup Medic Mobile, which disperses old cell phones to create a text messaging network that can connect doctors to patients, monitor the spread of disease, and help find disaster victims, reports Popular Mechanics .

Medic Mobile tested its platform in Malawi where sick residents texted their symptoms to doctors. Six months later, the amount of people getting treatment for TB doubled, and an estimated 1,200 hours of traveling time was wiped away. The cost of implementation: $500. After the earthquake in Haiti, Medic Mobile set up a hotline for victims to text for aid, and processed 80,000 messages in the first three weeks. Nesbit predicts that by 2015, half a million community health workers will be using SMS services, compared to 20,000 now. (Read more text message stories.)

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