Thursday, August 18, 2005

RU OK? South Africans tackle AIDS with text messages


AIDS counselor Nobafunti Dondolo’so from South Africa and her colleagues rely on an easy-to-use text message system. Specially tailored mobile phones are programmed with a list of questions aimed at monitoring patients on anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs: Is the patient experiencing side effects? Is she eating healthily? Does she have clean water? During home visits to AIDS sufferers, counselors ask the questions and immediately text the answers to a database at the University of Cape Town. Doctors and health workers monitor the database and can respond to urgent requests. Counselors count how many ARV pills are left and forward the details, keeping tabs on whether patients are correctly taking the complex cocktail of drugs and also encouraging them to be rigorous about their medication.

It is real time. The careers may not know the situation is critical but the doctors receiving the message might and they can respond. A piece of paper won’t be dealt with until following week,
said Jalal Ghiassi-Razavi, project manager.
Around 1,000 patients from Guguletu are logged onto their system.
Complete article

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