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Text Messaging Aids In Health Response To Philippine Floods, SciDev.Net Reports

SciDev.Net reports on how mobile phone text messages are aiding in the health response to flooding in the Philippines. “Officials from the country’s department of health (DOH), which was responsible for developing the ‘Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters’ (SPEED) system, … say that the new system has already significantly reduced response times to medical emergencies, such as the potential outbreak of fatal diseases in evacuation centers, hospitals and other health facilities,” the news service writes, adding, “SPEED enables health officials and workers to use mobile phone text messages to send in reports on communicable and non-communicable health conditions, and to monitor health trends.”

“Data sent this way are collated and analyzed by the SPEED server based in Manila, allowing government emergency officials to respond quickly to local situations and immediately offer health services, preventing the possible outbreak or spread of diseases,” the news service continues. “Carmencita Banatin, head of the emergency management unit at the DOH, told SciDev.Net that in previous emergency situations, SPEED had demonstrated that it was capable of cutting disease incidence,” according to the news service. “Soe Nyunt-U, WHO representative to the Philippines, told SciDev.Net that although there are, at present, no plans to replicate SPEED in other countries, the Philippines is keen to share its experiences with anyone interested,” the news service notes (Ducusin, 8/9).