Usually we write about communications technology in the context of nonprofit fundraising or issue advocacy. But we saw this impressive announcement from the UN Foundation and just had to pass it along.

The UN Foundation and the Vodaphone Foundation have partnered to develop and introduce software that enables health workers in sub-Saharan Africa to collect and utilize medical information in real-time in the field. In the next year the technology will spread into 22 African countries in support of programs ranging from immunization campaigns to disaster relief.The open source application is called EpiSurveyor and was developed by nonprofit DataDyne.org, and the program is called mHealth, or mobile health.

According to the UN Foundation release:"EpiSurveyor allows health workers in urban as well as rural areas to easily collect, manage and share clean and timely program monitoring data,” said Dr. Balcha Girma Masresha, medical officer in the Immunization Program in the African Region of the WHO. “The introduction of this technology is enabling health workers to better understand and identify the strengths and shortcomings of their programs, so that they can actively work toward continuous improvement.

You don’t think this kind of thing has political applications? Today’s door-to-door election campaign canvassers use this kind of technology to target and inform — and instantly report the results of — their door-knocking. Somehow I’d rather see it being used to fight malaria!

Tom

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