According to an article titled ‘How PDAs Are Saving Lives in Africa‘ in the UN Dispatch, Zambia is replacing paper-based health surveys with those used on PDAs (personal digital assistants). This means no data entry, no cumbersome clipboards, and most importantly no waiting weeks or months for data entry clerks to enter stacks of paper into a computer for analysis.
DataDyne.org, the non-profit organization founded by Joel Selanikio and technologist Rose Donna, is helping to forge this promising new path. Through the course of Joel’s work as a Wall Street IT consultant, a pediatrician, and a medical officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he developed an interest in applying computer science to the public health domain. The result is EpiSurveyor a free, easy to use, open source software solution.
So far, year-old pilot projects in Zambia and Kenya are showing that data received from the field has streamlined the inoculation of children against measles, collected information on HIV, and has even helped to contain a polio outbreak.