HP may not be selling boatloads of Palm Pre 2 devices, but it’s putting hundreds of them to good use in Botswana, Africa.
At the United Nations Social Innovation Summit today, HP and the non-profit Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING) unveiled a new collaboration that uses mobile health monitoring technology to combat malaria outbreaks.
The program equips healthcare workers in Botswana with Palm Pre 2 smartphones to collect malaria data, notify the Ministry of Health about an outbreak and tag both data and disease surveillance information with a GPS coordinate. Mascom Wireless provides the connectivity.
Because workers out in the field are using webOS-based technology on Palm Pres, they can input data in real time and send it up the chain to decision-makers at the Ministry of Health, who can make decisions about supplies or public alerts much faster than before – in days or hours instead of weeks, says Paul Ellingstad, HP’s global health director for Social Innovation.
Donating raw resources like cash and computers is still important, he says, but corporate giving these days means much more than that. Considering what HP’s 320,000+ employees worldwide can bring to the table, “we’re actually a problem-solving company,” he says.
The idea is to make a social impact at the same time you do business, and Botswana is a good place for the mobile health technology since its cellular penetration equates to about 1.4 phones per person.
This isn’t the only program with which HP is involved. An alliance with African social enterprise mPedigree also works to fight counterfeit malaria drugs through a mobile phone and cloud services solution, and it’s got other initiatives under way as well.
The World Health Organization reports that more than 780,000 people died from malaria-related illnesses in 2009, and most of them are children under the age of 5. In Africa, 75 million people, or 10 percent of the population, are at risk to contract malaria.