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Can mobile phones help control neglected tropical diseases?: experiences from Tanzania

Madon, Shirin, Amaguru, Jackline Olanya, Malecela, Mwele Ntuli and Michael, Edwin (2014) Can mobile phones help control neglected tropical diseases?: experiences from Tanzania. Social Science & Medicine, 102. pp. 103-110. ISSN 0277-9536

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.11.036


The increasing proliferation of mobiles offers possibilities for improving health systems in developing countries. A case in point is Tanzania which has piloted a mobile phone-based Management Information System (MIS) for the control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) where village health workers (VHWs) were given mobile phones with web-based software to test the feasibility of using frontline health workers to capture data at point of source. Based on qualitative case study research carried out in 2011, we found that providing mobile phones to VHWs has helped to increase the efficiency of routine work boosting the motivation and self-esteem of VHWs. However, despite these advantages, the information generated from the mobile phone-based NTD MIS has yet to be used to support decentralised decision-making. Even with improved technology and political will, the biggest hindrance to local usage of information for health planning is the lack of synthesised and analysed health information from the district and national levels to the villages. Without inculcating a culture of providing health information feedback to frontline workers and community organisations, the benefits of the intervention will be limited. If not addressed, this will mean that mobiles have maintained the one-way upward flow of information for NTD control and simply made reporting more hi-tech.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2014 09:06
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:09

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