“It’s a terrible reality, but many infants are born and die without ever officially existing, writes Dr Seth Berkley in the MIT Technology Review. Mobile telephony is, though, helping to capture these lost lives, “cell phones are now making it possible for parents to very easily register the birth of their child, thereby reducing the number of children that end up slipping through the net, and allowing governments to more accurately plan interventions, such as vaccination schedules.” GAVI, the international alliance that provides vaccines to the poor, is working with Vodafone on several initiatives. It is enough (almost) to make you forget Vodafone’s predatory tax-dodging behaviour around the world.
Berkley is now CEO of GAVI but worked for several years as an epidemiologist in Uganda. You can hear his excitement as he describes developments which could turn smartphones into mobile labs and diagnostic devices. Almost 100 million of Africa’s 630 million phones are already smartphones, according to a Tweet by Dr Ben Nwomeh today. Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper noted two days ago that one Chinese company has ambitions to grow this proportion fast.