Mobile phones can call for health, education and safety, UNICEF says
11 February 2009 – Cell phones can play an important role in education, crisis situations, and in monitoring health and nutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed today at the opening of a conference on innovation.
The conference, called “Web4Dev: Innovation for Access” and hosted by UNICEF, brings together academics, experts in technology, UN officials and development professionals to explore the application of new and existing communication technologies to dire problems in poor and isolated areas of the world.
“The task here this week is to put innovation and technology at the service of humanity,” Ann Veneman, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said as she opened the three-day meeting in New York.
She cited as an example a health-monitoring initiative in Malawi, led by UNICEF and Columbia University, which allows rural health workers to use mobile phone technology to relay data on children’s health and nutrition and receive instant, expert advice on critical interventions.
That initiative known as the “RapidSMS” text-messaging system, shared first prize in the United States development agency’s innovation competition, known as the “Development 2.0 Challenge” last year.