African Health Org's Tap IBM Cloud for Anti-Malaria Effort

IBM Corp., communications services provider Vodafone Group plc and pharmaceutical maker Novartis International AG recently teamed up on a pilot project called SMS for Life to help save lives from the ravages of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project, which was coordinated with Roll Back Malaria and the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, leveraged a mix of technologies such as mobile phones, text messaging and Web sites to help improve the delivery, tracking and supply chain management of anti-malaria drugs in the region.

The effort was prompted by the frequent difficulty in securing proper and timely delivery of anti-malaria drugs--funded with millions of dollars from governments and aid organizations--to the health centers for which they are intended, often resulting in lives lost to the devastating disease.

In Tanzania, some 93 percent of the population are at risk to contract malaria with an estimated 11 million cases resulting in up to 80,000 deaths per year, or 220 per day, according to Peter Ward, IBM SMS for Life project manager.

IBM officials said that the entire project was managed in the IBM cloud through the collaboration services of LotusLive. Using the technology, each member of the team was able to stay in touch with one another and remain knowledgeable about details of the project including weekly stock data, updated locations of health facilities, most current versions of documents and other activities important to the program's vitality.

The venture ran from September 2009 until this past February, and included districts in Tanzania, Lindi Rural, Kigoma Rural and Ulanga, covering some 129 health facilities and 226 villages representing more than one million people.

Officials said that the project produced a 300 percent improvement in health facilities remaining stocked with anti-malaria treatments, a 95 percent response rate by health workers to text messages sent, the elimination of stock-outs--the unavailability of medicine--in nearly 40 percent of the health facilities in one region and almost 60 percent in another.

Here's a blog IBM posted about the project:

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