How 3G technology is improving HIV patient care in Kenya

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.
Fri, 2015-01-09 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

Kenya has an extensive population that’s infected with HIV and until very recently, they have been getting poor care – if they get any at all. Council Lead Partner Qualcomm is helping to change that.

Pick 100 Kenyans at random, and odds are at least six of them are infected with HIV. Kenya has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world – at least 10 times that of most countries.

Kenya offers free Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) at clinics throughout the country, but the problem has been a lack of access. Only about 660,000 Kenyans are getting treatment, according to the United Nations. More than four times that many are infected with HIV.

A connection that saves lives
Qualcomm is changing that by providing something that you won’t find in a typical medical bag: 3G wireless technology. And it appears to be working.

ART treatment is very laborious with a tremendous administrative burden. Clinics have to track their drugs, generate tedious reports to get new supplies and deliver those reports to central facilities. Before Qualcomm stepped in, all of that work was done manually on paper. If a report was lost or delayed, the clinic wouldn’t get the drugs it needed to treat its patients.

The 3G technology has allowed clinics to computerize much of their administrative work, streamlining the submission process and saving time. The time needed to prepare three monthly reports dropped from 11.6 hours to less than half an hour. The time it takes to deliver those reports to the central management agency dropped from eight hours to five minutes.

By dramatically cutting the effort needed to complete administrative tasks, clinic staff can now spend more time with patients. That alone has a dramatic impact on care, since patients need close supervision to ensure they are taking their medications on schedule.

3G technology is making a difference
People in developed countries may think that 3G is outdated technology for smartphones, but as Kenya demonstrates, it can be a real lifesaver. And the project in Kenya is just one of those that Qualcomm has been involved with to bring wireless services to remote communities around the world.

Its effort is called Qualcomm Wireless Reach and so far has touched 40 countries through more than 100 projects. Projects run the gamut from health care and public safety to education and entrepreneurship.

A project in India is helping to educate migrant children. Sesame Street and other children’s programming is delivered on mobile devices to young children. A third-party study found children in the program showed significant gains in comprehension, language and word knowledge.

In Malaysia, the program is helping women entrepreneurs. Business classes are delivered wirelessly to tablets, which also let women in the program communicate with mentors. So far, the program has helped more than 150 entrepreneurs.


Kevin Ebi is a staff writer and social media coordinator for the Council. Follow  @smartccouncil on Twitter.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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