Mobile system helps caregivers follow childcare protocols in rural Tanzania

Health authorities in Tanzania are embracing smartphones, PDAs and even basic mobile phones to follow international disease-management protocols for young children in hopes of breaking a decades-long cycle of aid money doing little to improve health conditions in low-income countries.

A program called e-IMCI guides health workers through the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) treatment algorithm, helping caregivers adhere to the IMCI regime developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to reduce childhood mortality and promote the growth and development of children under the age of 5 in Africa and other poor regions. A 2008 test of e-IMCI by Italian researchers found that the mobile technology helped health workers pick up the IMCI protocols, receive IMCI updates and report data to public-health officials much faster and more accurately, German international development consultant Harald Himsel reports.

"Reports about the effectiveness of e-IMCI in rural Tanzania show that this approach has the potential to significantly improve the care for children, reduce infant mortality, and increase the rate of properly diagnosed diseases," Himsel writes. "If this approach proves itself over a longer period of time to be efficient and successful, it will be time to spread the word about mobile health benefits all over the world."

For more information:
- read Himsel's commentary at Smart Products Ecosystem Connections