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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Mobile phones improve case detection and management of malaria in rural Bangladesh

Chai S Prue1, Kerry L Shannon23, Jacob Khyang1, Laura J Edwards4, Sabeena Ahmed1, Malathi Ram2, Timothy Shields2, Mohammad S Hossain1, Gregory E Glass2, Myaing M Nyunt2, David A Sack2, David J Sullivan2 and Wasif A Khan1*

Author Affiliations

1 International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2 The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

3 The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

4 Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, USA

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Malaria Journal 2013, 12:48  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-48

Published: 4 February 2013

Abstract

Background

The recent introduction of mobile phones into the rural Bandarban district of Bangladesh provided a resource to improve case detection and treatment of patients with malaria.

Methods

During studies to define the epidemiology of malaria in villages in south-eastern Bangladesh, an area with hypoendemic malaria, the project recorded 986 mobile phone calls from families because of illness suspected to be malaria between June 2010 and June 2012.

Results

Based on phone calls, field workers visited the homes with ill persons, and collected blood samples for malaria on 1,046 people. 265 (25%) of the patients tested were positive for malaria. Of the 509 symptomatic malaria cases diagnosed during this study period, 265 (52%) were detected because of an initial mobile phone call.

Conclusion

Mobile phone technology was found to be an efficient and effective method for rapidly detecting and treating patients with malaria in this remote area. This technology, when combined with local knowledge and field support, may be applicable to other hard-to-reach areas to improve malaria control.

Keywords:
Mobile phones; Malaria; Bangladesh; Rapid test; Artemisinin; Surveillance; Rapid diagnostic test; mHealth