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Role of mobile technology in eradicating malaria

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By EMN Updated: Apr 24, 2014 11:19 pm
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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s nations celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25, Emma Okonji examines the Malaria Destroyer Game, a software technology solution designed by a Nigerian software firm, that can eradicate malaria through the use of mobile phones
Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies of malaria, according to the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Chinedu Chukwu. The situation is getting worse, following the high resistance to modern day vaccines by the malaria scourge, especially in Africa.
Worried by the number of deaths caused by the malaria disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been carrying out series of research on how to eradicate it, and has set aside April 25 every year to celebrate World Malaria Day, in order to accelerate hope and to come up with solutions that will further save more lives.The theme for 2014 is: “Invest in the future. Defeat Malaria”.
In line with the aspiration of WHO, Mobile Software Solutions Limited, a Nigerian software firm, designed a software-based technology solution that could be deployed online to reach 50-250 million mobile phones and offline on PC and tablets to reach 20-50 million students in tertiary institutions in Africa.
Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Software Solutions Limited, the developer of the new Malaria Destroyer Game (MDG), Mr. Chris Uwaje, said Nigeria could resolve her colossal malaria scourge by 50 per cent in the shortest possible time in compliance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), using the Malaria Destroyer Game.
The Software Solution
Launched in Lagos in February this year, the Malaria Destroyer Game has received commendations from Nigerians from all walks of life. Nigerians have insisted that the solution would address the adverse effect of malaria in Nigeria and Africa, if supported and given the right funding.
They commended Mobile Software Solution, which is an IT start-up company, for the software initiative, describing malaria as a killer disease that kills between 300 to 500 million people each year, globally.
Economically, Malaria costs Africa an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity every year, according to the Health Minister.
The commendation was given at the public preview of the software solution and the unveiling of Prof. Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School as the face of Malaria Destroyer Game (MDG) in Africa.
The public preview, which was held in collaboration with the Centre for Values in Leadership, attracted the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the UNESCO Chair in Global eLearning, Prof. Emeritus Tapio Varis, as well as prominent Nigerians that want to see the end of the malaria killer disease.
Uwaje assured Nigerians that the campaign on eradication of malaria, which the software solution seeks to address, would reach all Nigerians and Africans.
According to him: “The central objective of MDG is to deploy and apply technology solution capability to reach millions of people world-wide and destroy malaria more than any other solution has ventured to date. It is a digital knowledge-entertainment and educational mobile psycho-Game.”
Uwaje explained that the application/solution is geared towards the eradication of malaria in Africa and world over. The stack version of the application is designed to reach about 50 million people in Nigeria, 150 million in West Africa and over 500 million in Africa.
How It Works
Speaking on the implementation strategy, Uwaje explained that the software solution would bring more to intuition, the awareness on how to eradicate mosquitoes from our environment, thereby preventing malaria.
Malaria Destroyer Game is a full graphics animated mobile game which runs across all mobile platforms (Apple IOS, Andriod, Blackberry, and Symbian), originated,
designed and developed indigenously by Mobile Software Solutions Limited, that could be deployed both online and offline reach millions of people, via the mobile phone.
The software solution has been described by Nigerians as the ultimate malaria monster killer of our time. Those present at the unveiling, described the software solution as perfect for Nigeria and Africa, where malaria is currently killing women and children.
Global Efforts in Eradicating Malaria
Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, though there is an increased political commitment and expanded funding to further assist the reduction of malaria pandemic by 25 per cent globally, and 31 per cent in Africa.
But Nigeria appears to be far away from the desired goal. By extension, Nigeria is very far away from engaging malaria with technology. According to experts, the world can save more lives by introducing the right technologies to fight and destroy malaria, since majority of the deaths are due to ignorance.
Experts opinion insisted that Information Technology would therefore be the sustainable answer and solution for Africa’s malaria problem and that Nigeria can lead the fight to destroy malaria by example, through her current mobile phone ubiquitous advantage.
Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, and most malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected. In 2013, 97 countries and territories had ongoing malaria transmission.
If Nigeria must defeat malaria, the Minister of Health must adopt the Information Technology strategy and apply the mobile phone and app advantage, where Nigeria currently has a lead, based on her population and the number of telecoms subscribers that is currently over 160 million.
The Effect
Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, 97 countries had on-going malaria transmission. Every year, more than 200 million cases occur, and most of these cases are never tested or registered.
Emerging drug and insecticide resistance threaten to reverse recent gains. If the world is to maintain and accelerate progress against malaria, in line with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6, and to ensure attainment of MDGs 4 and 5, more funds are urgently required.
World Malaria Day
The World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.
It is also an opportunity for countries in affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts, and for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria.
The goal is to encourage research and for academic institutions to flag scientific advances to both experts and the general public; and for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to further scale up interventions.
According to WHO: “Today the specific malaria population risk groups include but not limited to young children in stable transmission areas who have not yet developed protective immunity against the most severe forms of the disease; non-immune pregnant women; semi-immune pregnant women in areas of high transmission.
In April 2012, WHO launched new global surveillance manuals for malaria control and elimination, and urged endemic countries to strengthen their surveillance systems for malaria. This was embedded in a larger call to scale up diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance for malaria, known as WHO’s T3: Test. Treat. Track initiative.
According to the latest estimates, released in December 2013, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, with an uncertainty range of 135 million to 287 million, and an estimated 627 000 deaths.
Since the death toll caused by malaria is on the increase, there is need for the Ministry of Health to adopt the Newly developed Malaria Destroyer Game, designed by Mobile Software Solutions Limited, and provide it with the necessary funding that will make it fly.
(Courtesy: This Day Live)

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By EMN Updated: Apr 24, 2014 11:19:33 pm