Mobile phones are reaching people across Africa more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, say Richard Lester and Sarah Karanja. And they can be used to help manage diseases such as HIV/AIDS, provide support during political crises and improve health services.
For example, a clinic in Pumwani, Kenya, is using mobile phones to send text messages to patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) so that nurses can enquire about, and respond to, patients' needs.
And when hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the country's political crisis in 2008, mobile phones were used to connect ART patients with new drug dispensaries and offer them counselling.
Mobile phones are a cheap and instantaneous form of communication that can be used anywhere, say the authors. They suggest that this technology could improve adherence in other chronic and semi-chronic disease treatments, including tuberculosis and short-course malaria therapies.
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