Cell phones battle malaria in Zambia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed on Thursday how cell phones are being used in Zambia to fight malaria.

Zambia has seen numerous new tools to fight Malaria since 2000, including long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and antimalarial medicines. The newest introduction takes another big step forward by introducing rapid reporting systems on cell phones.

The mobile phones can now provide real-time data and detect areas that have a high rate of infection.

"With my mobile phone, I can get updates from health care volunteers while they are out in the field instead of waiting hours, sometimes days, for them to make it back here to the clinic with their reports," Ruth Nghlove, head nurse at the Siakasipa Clinic, said.

The Ministry of Health in Zambia is partnering with PATH, an international nonprofit organization, to supply the mobile phones to community health volunteers.

The phones are part of a new three-step approach to eradicate malaria in Zambia. The first step is rapid reporting, followed by mass test and treatment and finally active surveillance. This new system is being implemented on the pilot level with the goal of creating malaria-free zones that can be duplicated in other sub-Saharan African countries.