The Spread of Mobile Reporting Platforms as a Means of Community Empowernment

In our last class we read the “ICT4D Manifesto” by Richard Heeks which in its conclusion discussed the most recent advancement in the ICT4D movement, ICT4D 2.0. The 2.0 version is characterized by utilizing existing technology in a successful way in a region instead of trying to create wholly new technology and then apply it to a region. This led me to remembering a project I worked on last year for a health policy graduate class in which we researched the global implications of counterfeit drug production.

Traditionally, counterfeit drugs have been combated by governments and policies in a top down approach, however, recently the WHO in Southeast Asia. The program closely resembles one described in a video “TEDTalks” that we watched in class as well. In the video the program Ushahidi was described, which is a disaster reporting platform in which areas where violence or disasters are occurring can be mapped through the collation of information reported by individuals on the ground. The WHO’s program in Southeast Asia uses a mobile reporting platform to report cases of counterfeit drugs, similar to Ushahidi. These reports are then collated at the national level and released to the public so they can monitor where counterfeit drugs are being sold. Once a case is confirmed it is also logged into the WHO database. The program has been greatly effective in limiting community’s exposures to harmful counterfeit medicines. This kind of publically powered community based reporting model is becoming more and more prevalent as tools to disseminate information to the masses in an easy to understand format. This technology encompasses the ideals of “ICT4D2.0” because it uses existing mobile and computer technologies in a new way to empower communities to take action to protect themselves, from fake drugs, violence, or natural disasters.

See a description of Rapid Alert System (RAS) for reporting counterfeit drugs here– http://www.wpro.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs_20050503/en/index.html

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