Throughout time, we have seen incredible transformations of information and communication technologies. In its earliest forms, information has been shared through old evidence of writing, smoke signals, drums and other primitive means of communication. However, in recent years, we have seen an unprecedented growth of information and communication technologies, dubbing this time period the ‘information age’. In particular, the rapid growth of mobile cellular technology has revolutionized the way in which individuals from impoverished and isolated communities function and access information.
In Africa, the growth of mobile technology has created many opportunities to improve the healthcare and wellbeing of many citizens. In 1994, the first mobile network was launched, however such technology was scarce and costly. In 2012, mobile has become much more accessible, with 65% mobile penetration and becoming the fastest growing mobile market in the world.
An interesting company that I came across is called Praekelt, which provides mobile services and technologies for emerging markets and marginalized communities throughout Africa. They created a product called TxtAlert, which sends automated text messages to patients that may not have airtime on their phone. The tool can remind HIV-positive individuals to take their medication, inform patients of upcoming appointments or allow for rescheduling of appointments. Clinics have the ability to send a “Please Call Me” message to patients and then a TxtAlert operator will call the patient and assist with the appointment.