mHealth and simple apps saving lives in Africa

James BonTempo, a technology adviser at a Baltimore (MD) nonprofit, wrote an excellent article for the Baltimore Sun website illustrating how mobile phone applications, mainly text (SMS) based, connects health workers in Malawi (FrontlineSMS:Medic), alerts officials to low stocks of lifesaving drugs in sub-Saharan Africa (Ushahidi, former hackers, in Kenya) and sends health messages attached to call back messages (Project Masiluleke in South Africa). Combine this with FierceMobileHealthcare’s pickup of a fascinating Reuters report on how a Ghanian Dartmouth College-trained engineer named Ashifi Gogo developed a cell phone application (Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication) that verifies prescription drugs, in order to block drug counterfeiters in Nigeria.  (Drug counterfeiting is a $75 billion worldwide business, accounting for an estimated 1/3 of drugs in developing countries.)   Nothing whiz-bang but highly inventive and simple; basic phones in a cash economy can go a long way.  [Update 5 April:  video of BonTempo at Ignite Baltimore 5]