Drones, Smartphones Eyed for Medical Aid to Remote Regions

Nancy A. Melville

October 02, 2013

In This Article

Innovative Efforts

According to Larry Chang, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and international health with Johns Hopkins University's Center for Global Health in Baltimore, Maryland, the integration of the vital sign sensors and mobile telephone technology in the context of the IMCI program is unique.

"It looks like they are trying to take the WHO's IMCI guidelines and make them mobile, which other people have also been trying do, and I think it makes a lot of sense."

"But in trying to attach the vital sign sensors, that is a bit unusual. Most people are trying to do one or the other, but to combine them sounds very innovative to me," Dr. Chang said.

Malawi's needs as a developing country make it an appropriate setting for such innovations, he added.

"Malawi is probably relatively similar to many sub-Saharan African countries in that most of the population is in a rural setting and there are a lot of transportation difficulties. It makes sense to test it in a place like Malawi, and it might be generalizable to other countries in the region."

Dr. Chang was somewhat more skeptical of the potential usefulness of UAVs in such regions.

"I think there certainly operational logistical challenges, ranging from safety and security to technological challenges," he said.

"But if they can pull it off, especially in a cost-effective manner, I'd be pretty impressed."


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