Empowering Healthworkers, Globally
You’ve been awake all night with your youngest. He has a fever. Morning has broken, so you bundle him up and make your way across to see Awa, the village healthworker. Surprisingly, your father doesn’t disapprove-even he has had to admit that Awa helps many more than the local healer.
Awa welcomes you, and you take a seat under the mango tree while she collects her medicine bag from inside. You hand over the card he was given at birth, his medical record number. She asks the usual questions- how long has he been feverish, has he been eating, has he been vomiting- while she listens to his heart and takes his temperature and many other measurements. Awa’s daughter brings you a plastic mug of tea, sweet and milky.
Awa enters all your son’s measurements into her phone, a special phone for healthworkers that puts all the information into your son’s medical record. She suspects malaria. So many children in the village have fallen sick this rainy season that the drones have had to make many more medicine drops than last year. At first, they only sent the drones when the rains flooded the roads. Now they send them year-round, to save the 7 hour drive from the capital.
Precision Medicine For All
Awa pulls her Q-POC™ from her medicine bag. She pricks your son’s finger and puts a drop of blood into a small plastic block, pushes this into the Q-POC™ and tells you the test has started. For 15 minutes you talk about your families, this year’s crops and the best foods for weaning your son. She even brings you a new mosquito net when you tell her that yours has a hole. Your conversation is interrupted by a ping, telling you the test is finished.
He does have malaria, Awa tells you. Luckily he does not have the same kind that has affected so many other children this season, the kind that needs special drugs. Awa gives more and more of these drugs lately. For certain cases she has even begun giving old drugs, ones she remembers seeing when she was a child. They stopped working years ago, but now Q-POC™ tells her the special cases they will help, like this one.
You are relieved. This is a strange response to hearing that your child is sick, but you have enough money for the pills he needs. You worried he would need the expensive new drugs; you worried that the family would be eating plain rice for weeks to come. You take out your phone and Awa helps you create alerts to remind you when to give the pills.
Protecting Our Communities With Advanced Surveillance
Meanwhile, her Q-POC™ device is quietly working away, sending the diagnosis and drug resistance information to the cloud. The anonymised location-tagged data will feed into the Internet of Life™ and this case of malaria will be one data point on a vast real-time map of global disease and drug resistance.
Public health officials in the capital keep a watchful eye on this map, and sometimes Awa receives a call from them warning her to expect an outbreak of a new disease. They send medicines to prepare her, and she watches training videos on her phone on how to check for symptoms and administer drugs.
Awa reassures you that your son will be well soon. This afternoon she will send a group of men to help cover over a patch of standing water by your house, and she’ll come your house to check on him in a couple of days.