Cell Phones in support of Community Health Workers

It is estimated that nearly 9 million children die annually from conditions that could be readily treated if North American or European standards of care were more generally available. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been working with the University of British Colombia (UBC) on interventions to secure better outcomes after drug treatment for infants and young children in rural Africa. This project will complement work in Tanzania and Ghana funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Uganda is an interesting partner because, with a median age of 14.8 years, it has one of the youngest populations in the world and is well advanced in case management for childhood malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.

Canadian researchers will work closely with Ugandan partners to test the usefulness of new cellphone technologies in integrated community case management of acute respiratory infections, pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea in children under five years in rural western Uganda. In the second year of the project, the team will explore the application of wireless phone oximetry as an aid to the diagnosis and treatment of childhood pneumonia at a level 4 health centre (county level). Oximetry is a non-invasive method of monitoring the amount of oxygen in the patient's blood.

The project is expected to answer the following questions. Will the application of cellphone technology improve the ability of village health volunteers to treat acute infections in infants and young children appropriately? Will the application of cellphone technology improve the ability of village health volunteers to identify life-threatening infections in infants and young children, and refer such cases to the appropriate facility in a timely manner? Will the wider availability of cellphone technology improve the supply-chain management of medications for the target conditions? While examining the use of cellphone communication, the researchers will also evaluate the drug prescribing paradigm and the impact of improved prescribing choices on child survival.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

End Date

Thursday, March 20, 2014


24 months

IDRC Officer

Cohen, Marc

Total funding

CA$ 150,260


North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Colombia, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

MacLeod, Stuart M


Children's & Women's Health Centre of British Columbia Branch

Institution Country


Project Leader

Kabakyenga, Jerome


Mbarara University of Science and Technology

Institution Country


Institution Website