June 5, 2013

Mobile Phone Innovation to Boost TB Management

Through the application, patients will be able to send and receive messages on the efficiency of the medication they are taking and alerts from health care workers to remind them of to take their medicine.

Adherence to medication and close medical observation is essential in managing Tuberculosis patients. However, several patients fail to make it to health centers for routine checks and end up missing signs that could exacerbate the condition. As a result of this, Denis Mpima, a Clinical Field Services Supervisor at The Aids Support Organization has developed a mobile phone application to ensure that patients in remote locations don’t miss the doctor’s observation,early initiation and prevention of highly infectious smear TB.Through the application, patients will be able to send and receive messages on the efficiency of the medication they are taking and alerts from health care workers to remind them of to take their medicine.
Speaking to  in a recent health scientist’s conference, Mpima explained that through the technology, family members can also be advised on how to administer medication and make emergency alerts when the patient’s situation deteriorates. He says the mobile application becomes handy in giving prescriptions, monitoring on the progress of the patient and updating on the side effects of the drugs.

Mpima hopes that the application will help patients communicate with care workers, in times when they cannot afford transport costs to attend TB clinics. In addition, the application also prevents further spread of the disease by limiting frequent visits to TB clinics where the patients could be re-infected with the TB bacteria. Dr. Isaac Lwanga, the Principal Medical Officer, Infectious Disease Institute explains that keeping the patient in an observatory environment gives them a chance to take medication until the bacteria is dormant instead of making them travel in public transport where there is a high chance of spreading TB. Dr. Lwanga says once TB patients fail to adhere to medication it could lead a relapse.

Mpima argues that the mobile phone innovation is a potential strategy to control Tuberculosis (TB) among patients; it can also be used for campaign mobile messages raise TB awareness and encourage early TB diagnosis and treatment compliance.

As in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in Uganda, access to quality health care is severely limited by ill-equipped health units and infrastructures.
These again are confounded by the high cost of travel and relatively high cost of health care services which most cannot afford.

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