Photograph courtesy of Pop!Tech
About the Project
Project Masiluleke is designed to harness the mobile phone as a high-impact, low-cost tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS and TB. Nearly a hundred percent of South Africans have access to a mobile device and the project will touch virtually every one of them. Conservative estimates indicate Project Masiluleke could mobilize hundreds of thousands to get tested in the first year alone.
The key elements and stages of Project Masiluleke include:
“Please Call Me” x 1 Million x 365
The first stage of the project is built around the use of specialized text messages, delivering approximately 1,000,000 HIV/AIDS and TB messages each day, for one year, to the general public. These messages are broadcast in the unused space of “Please Call Me” (PCM) text messages—a special, free form of SMS text widely used in South Africa and across the continent. Utilizing technology from the Praekelt Foundation, message content from iTeach, design insights from frog design, and network capacity donated by MTN, the messages connect mobile users to existing HIV and TB call centers. Trained operators provide callers with accurate healthcare information, counseling, and referrals to local testing clinics.
Early beta testing of this service has already helped triple average daily call volume to the National AIDS Helpline in Johannesburg. The system is being fine tuned and will officially launch during the first quarter of 2009.
TxtAlert: Keeping Patients Connected to Care
Only ten percent of South Africans with AIDS are currently receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy, and of those who begin treatment, more than 40 percent do not remain on the life-saving drugs past two years. Project Masiluleke will address this critical problem through the Praekelt Foundation’s TxtAlert technology, which uses text messaging to remind patients of scheduled clinic visits—helping to ensure they adhere to ARV regimens.
HIV Virtual Call Centers
For Project Masiluleke’s second phase, plans are underway to implement “virtual call centers,” where existing helplines will be augmented by teams of highly trained, highly adherent HIV patients. These individuals will field questions remotely, via their mobile devices, from the general public. Counselors will be closely vetted and trained and represent “gold star” patients—extremely knowledgeable about their illness, diligent about their treatment regimen and intimately familiar with the weight of an HIV diagnosis. These virtual call centers hold the potential to create hundreds of new jobs and considerably increase the capacity of South Africa’s health response system.
At-Home HIV Testing With Mobile Support
Ultimately, with more HIV citizens than any country in the world, and infection rates topping 40 percent in some provinces, South Africa demands a radical solution to truly reverse its HIV/AIDS and TB crises. For the third phase of Project M, the project partners are actively exploring a breakthrough distributed diagnostics model: low cost, at-home HIV testing with mobile counseling support. Analogous to a pregnancy test, these distributed diagnostics would provide a free, private and reliable way for anyone to take the critical first step of knowing his or her status, with high-quality information provided via mobile device.
Home testing does raise some serious questions, which will require thoughtful analysis and careful planning; however, an effective HIV home-testing service could help trigger system-wide positive change. Early response from South African government and healthcare officials, as well as likely users in both urban and rural communities, has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The Project M team hopes to initiate a global conversation about this and other potentially transformative solutions applicable in South Africa and worldwide. Frog design and iTeach are actively collaborating on visionary design strategies which can guide a possible implementation of this solution.
—Text courtesy Pop!Tech
Support Project M
Support this project that presently is reaching up to one million South Africans each day – delivering life-saving healthcare information and helping catalyze increased testing.
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Fascinating Conversations From Our Weekly Radio Show—Nat Geo Weekend
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00:11:00 Lee Berger Audio
National Geographic grantee and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger has been searching for the fossils of human ancestors, but it was his 9-year-old son who stumbled upon the find of a lifetime: a partial skeleton that may very well change our understanding of the genus Homo.
00:07:59 Brad Norman
Some go swimming with dolphins or stingrays, Brad Norman, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and marine conservationist, talks about swimming with the largest fish in the world: the whale shark. Norman speaks with Boyd about his research concerning whale shark habitats, tracking and conservation.
00:11:00 Losang Rabgey
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National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert capture astounding images of African wildlife in their beautiful films. The Jouberts live in the African bush alongside the lions and other animals they profile. They explain to Boyd that, because big cats are in such danger, their work is now focused on conservation projects such as the Cause an Uproar program.
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00:09:00 Joshua Ponte Audio
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Joshua Ponte was a successful young English entrepreneur when, over breakfast one morning, his eye fell on a newspaper ad that said "Gorilla Reintroduction Program, Gabon." His life has never been the same since. Pursuing his passion for conservation, Ponte moved to a central African forest where 13 orphaned gorillas were being studied. Boyd talks with Ponte about the joys and dangers of raising young gorillas.
00:11:00 Wade Davis
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00:11:00 Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner(blurb here)
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00:09:00 Catherine Jaffee
Turkey is famed for its honey, which is music to Boyd's ears—he has a notorious sweet tooth. He visited National Geographic grantee Cat Jaffee, a beekeeper who left her job in Washington, D.C. to make honey in rural Turkey. She says that bees harvest pollen from their surroundings: the best honey comes from bees with natural surroundings, large meadows, rather than urban environments. Most people, Jaffee says, eat honey that is basically a synthetic mix of sugars from all over the world.
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