A single text message can save lives

If you think that a text message could only be useful for communicating with your love ones, then better think again.  In Kenya, an ordinary text message can save the lives of children suffering from malaria.  Malaria takes more than hundred thousand of children each year.

The latest six-month long study got published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, and focused on how to execute government strategies for controlling malaria.

Although, government guidelines provided for the use of artemether-lumefantrine (AL), an antimalarial drug, People do not follow the guidelines in the field. To proceed with the study, participating health care professionals received text messages twice a day, reminding them of the need to follow the guidelines that the government wants to implement. The messages passed on information on the government’s guidelines as well as instructions for parents.

Around 119 health care workers in Kenya participated in the study.  The results were satisfactory as the number of people following the health guidelines of the government increases.

More than half of the child patients were receiving appropriate malaria treatment, after the study ended – the study projected a 100 percent increase realized prior to the implementation of text message.  Before the study began, there were only 20.5 percent of children getting the right treatment. The number increased to 49.6 percent after the study got completed.

Researcher found out that the texting intervention had a lasting, or sustainable, effect. Six months afterward, more than 51.4 percent of children still getting the right treatment – the rate has even exceeded beyond the previous one at the study’s end.

This is not the first time that text message used to improve the lives of many, in this case the health of children.

According to Professor Bob Snow, head of the researchers, the function of the mobile phone in improving health service has a large potential in Africa.  Perhaps, it could also prove useful in other countries, once implemented.

There will be always a need for more research since this is just a new study.  Researchers need to know how long the texting scheme for improving the performance of health worker would last, although, not implemented anymore by the government.

Text messaging amounts only to a penny, so the cost of saving lives for thousands of children only amounts to a penny per child.  It is a low-cost way to help children.

In East Africa, more than 20 million people got their own mobile phone.  Those, who do not own a mobile phone, need to get one as  badly needed in improving the health care service.