In remote villages in Africa, it’s not uncommon for the nearest health clinic to be a day’s travel away. It’s also not uncommon for villagers to make the long journey only to find out that a doctor isn’t there that day or that needed medication isn’t in stock.
United Methodist Communications is funding a project in Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo, to improve better communications between clinics and villagers through mobile phone and texting technology.
The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, a United Methodist clergywoman from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a public health care worker, was an early adopter of ICT4D. Musau said that during a February 2014 cholera outbreak last February, messages sent through Frontline SMS — a free text-messaging system that does not depend on Internet connection — stopped unnecessary deaths. She simply sent texts reminding people to boil their water before drinking and to wash their hands frequently.
“A woman told me (that) messages to the villages to wash their hands before breast-feeding and before handling food worked to save lives,” Musau said.
Musau received a grant from United Methodist Communications for the Kamina project, to show how text messaging and mobile health technology (mHealth) could be utilized in the developing world. Partnering with Medic Mobile, UMCom and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, Musau designed the project in Kamina connecting clinics and villagers via mobile messaging.