How mobile phones contained Kenyan polio outbreak
A potential polio epidemic in Kenya has been monitored and contained using a mobile phone application called EpiSurveyor.
The application, which is free to use and run on an open-source platform, was used by health officials to collate information on the disease, such as patient symptoms, treatment, levels of medical supplies and areas that needed vaccines.
Questionnaires were formulated and sent out to healthworkers instantaneously via mobile networks to obtain real-time information on the progress of the outbreak and emergency vaccination programme.
There had been no cases of polio in Kenya for 21 years until a new case was detected among Somalian refugees in northeastern Kenya two years ago.
The success of the application in Kenya, as well as the prevalence of mobile phones even in the poorest nations, led the WHO to expand the project to another 20 African countries.
Joel Selanikio, co-founder of DataDyne.org, which designed EpiSurveyor, hopes that as the application is used more widely, more people will help to improve and adapt the computer code to their own needs.