Sustainable Technology Empowers Healthcare Delivery in Africa

"Palm" pilot programs in Kenya and Zambia demonstrate that open source
mobile software increases countries’ capacity to manage public health

Washington, D.C. (Vocus/ PRWEB ) October 10, 2007 — The United Nations
Foundation and Vodafone Group Foundation announced today the successful
conclusion of two pilot mobile health data programs in Africa, and said
that significant benefits to healthcare delivery in developing
countries could be achieved by monitoring health data and tracking the
progress of health campaigns using open source software on mobile
hand-held devices.

The one-year pilot programs in Kenya and Zambia used EpiSurveyor
software on Palm™ handheld devices to facilitate the supervision of
public health clinics, and resulted in improved drug supply-chain
management and more regular access to public health trends.
Additionally, country health officials modified the EpiSurveyor
software to track and contain disease outbreaks, and to identify
immunization campaign coverage rates.

Empowered with sustainable open source technologies,
developing-country public health professionals can get more critical
health information that can be used to improve lives, fight disease,
and reduce deaths all without expensive technology or outside
consultants.

The pilots, part of the Foundations’ Health Data Systems program,
involved health experts from country governments, the World Health
Organization (WHO) and DataDyne.org, and supported faster and broader
access to in-country health data. In announcing the completion of the
pilot programs today, the Foundations said they were pleased by the
initial results and the demonstrated effectiveness of the vital role of
mobile technology in improving healthcare delivery and battling
disease.

"These programs build off our prior investments in integrated
healthcare campaigns in Africa, where we’ve seen that successful
Measles immunization campaigns rely on timely and accurate information
from the field," said Tim Wirth, president of the UN Foundation. "Such
information had been hard to come by in many countries, but now
sustainable mobile technologies are addressing this challenge."

"By making information technology portable, simple and affordable we
can effectively support public health programs – even in resource
restrictive environments," said Andrew Dunnett, director of The
Vodafone Group Foundation. "This project effectively lowers the
barriers to public health management, and puts access to health data
collection and management tools squarely in the hands of
developing-country public health officials."

Designed to facilitate the supervision of health data in public clinics
using handheld computers, the initiative broke ground when country
officials modified the open source EpiSurveyor data-gathering software
to meet other public health needs as they arose. In Kenya health
officials modified EpiSurveyor to investigate and contain a polio
outbreak, and in Zambia health officials modified the software to
conduct a post-measles-immunization campaign coverage survey to
identify which children had not been vaccinated. Because the
EpiSurveyor application is open source, its application was owned and
controlled entirely by WHO and country health officials without
depending on outside consultants.

"Empowered with sustainable open source technologies,
developing-country public health professionals can get more critical
health information that can be used to improve lives, fight disease,
and reduce deaths all without expensive technology or outside
consultants," said Joel Selanikio, co-founder of DataDyne.org, the
non-profit organization that developed the fee-free EpiSurveyor
software.

Following completion of the pilot programs, the Foundations are
continuing their work with DataDyne.org, the WHO, and national
ministries of health to expand the Health Data Systems program. The WHO
has announced that it intends to make EpiSurveyor a standard for data
collection in sub-Saharan Africa, and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention has downloaded the free EpiSurveyor software and
is using it to collect integrated health data in Sierra Leone.

Note to editors
For more information about how EpiSurveyor was used to fight polio in
Kenya, visit
http://www.unfoundation.org/files/pdf/2007/EpiSurveyor_Polio_Kenya.pdf . And to learn more about the Zambia pilot, see
http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2007/09/how_pdas_are_sa.php#more .
EpiSurveyor is available for download at
http://www.datadyne.org/?q=episurveyor/home. Photos and interviews with health
experts participating in the pilot programs are available through the
press contacts provided below. ‘Open source’ software refers to
software that is intended to be freely shared, improved, and
redistributed.


About the UN Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership

The UN Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation (VGF) alliance strives to
be the leading public-private partnership using strategic technology
programs to strengthen the UN’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. Created
in October 2005, with a £10 million commitment from VGF matched by £5
million from the UN Foundation, the Partnership has three core
commitments: (1) to develop rapid response telecoms teams to aid
disaster relief; (2) to develop health data systems that improve access
to health data thereby helping to combat disease; and (3) to promote
research and innovative initiatives using technology as an agent and
tool for international development. Further information can be found
on: www.unfoundation.org/vodafone.


About DataDyne and Episurveyor

DataDyne was formed in 2003 by physician/epidemiologist Joel Selanikio,
formerly of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
and technologist Rose Donna, formerly of the American Red Cross, to
increase the quantity and quality of data available for worldwide
public health. DataDyne works with mobile information technologies
including handheld computers, smartphones, the Internet, and GPS, to
break down the barriers to data utilization and create sustainable data
flows in developing countries. DataDyne’s premier product is the
award-winning EpiSurveyor, a free, open-source data-gathering software
suite for handheld computers and smartphones. Based on the success of
the pilot programs in Kenya and Zambia, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control is now using EpiSurveyor software in Sierra Leone.

Press contacts:

In Washington:
Adele Waugaman
United Nations Foundation
(t) + 1 202 778 1635
(e) awaugaman (at) unfoundation.org
(w) www.unfoundation.org/vodafone

In London:
Darren Milner
Four Communications
(t) + 44 (0)870 444 4568
(e) darren.milner (at) fourcommunications.com

In Newbury:
Katherine Danby
Vodafone Group Foundation
(t): +44 (0) 7795047 471
(f): +44 (0)1635 686484
(e) katherine.danby (at) vodafone.com
(w) http://www.vodafonefoundation.org