SMS System Reduces Disease Spread

Thabani Dube | The Zimbabwean | February 20, 2013

The Weekly Diseases Surveillance Programme designed to minimise the spread of disease outbreaks has improved since the adoption of a new system. The programme is now using the Frontline SMS Disease Surveillance System, that makes use of mobile telephony to send information through short messages.

In an interview, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare’s Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control, Portia Manangazira, said the implementation of the Frontline SMS technology has reduced bottlenecks in the delivery of health services. “Traditionally, we used telephone (landlines) and two-way-radio systems to communicate with 1500 health institutions in our 62 health districts,” she said.

Manangazira added that rural health systems were the most affected owing to dilapidating communication infrastructure. “The systems had not only become outdated and unserviceable but also unreliable resulting in fewer and fewer health clinics managing to report disease outbreaks on time, if at all.” Manangazira said the ministry distributed 1 200 basic 3G Nokia mobile phones and lines throughout the country’s health institutions...