Parsons Students Use SMS Technology To Get Medicines To African Villages

I keep discovering the most amazing social innovation work using social media being done by Parsons students. Check out this use of simple SMS technology, available in many African villages, to track medicine inventories at the local level.

One of the big problems in preventing and managing illness in Africa is the failure of governments to get medicines they have bought or received from outside agencies down to the village level. Sometimes the reason is simple inefficiency. Sometimes it is corruption. Villagers can complain but can’t prove they haven’t received what is promised. “Stock-outs” of medicines for malaria, TB, HIV and other diseases at local public health clinics is common.

In May of 2009, Oxfam and Health Action International (HAI) Africa convened 30 civil society organizations (CSOs) and policy-makers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to examine strategies for reducing stock-outs of medicines in Africa. Using Google Maps and SMS, the students were able to track 10 key medicines in four African countries.

The students who created this initiative— Claudio Midolo and Michael Ballard— belonged to the Parsons Open Society Institute and the CDT—Communication Design Technology program. Check out this video. And think about how we can use SMS in the US to make healthcare and wellness better.

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