Two years ago, an estimated 20,000 people in and around the city of Lahore contracted the deadly tropical disease. This year, the region has recorded just a few dozen cases of dengue fever, which usually involves a high fever, horrible headache, and severe bone and joint pain. NPR reports.
What triggered the sharp decline in dengue cases? Fortuitous weather patterns may have helped to keep the mosquito population low. But many leaders also credit a mobile phone app — and the public health campaign that uses it.
"We pull up the trash, put it in the basket, tie up the bag and take it away," says sanitation worker Tanvir Channa. He says that he doesn't often think about his role in combating a deadly epidemic. "Whatever I do, it's just to provide for my kids," the thin 30-year-old says.
To make sure workers like Channa don't skip out on their tasks and allow the dengue mosquitoes to breed, they're followed by an investigator who uses a smartphone to their progress. In this case, it's a tall man in plaid shirt named Mohammad Saleem Taqi.
"I open this application, called Clean Lahore, to enter a field activity," he says. "I take pictures before and after the work is done, enable location services to map this spot, and then send it on to my supervisors."
"Of course it seemed strange at first," Channa says, of having his picture taken on the job. But now he believes the monitoring campaign is to his benefit because the photos show supervisors that he's on the job and can't be marked absent.
Across town from the sewer, men with the fishery department tip a bucket of water into a small neighborhood pond. Dozens of tiny tilapia fish swim into the pond. These fish have a taste for mosquito larvae and naturally curb the mosquito population.
As the two men work, an inspector snaps a photo of them with the Clean Lahore app.
The app is the brainchild of Umar Saif, a Cambridge-educated computer scientist, who now manages part of the anti-dengue campaign.
An eye surgeon in the U.K. has noticed a 35 percent increase in the number of patients diagnosed with advancing myopia (short sightedness) which he believes is being cause by smartphones. Techspot reports.
David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, says the increase dates back to the launch of smartphones in 1997 and unfortunately, it’s a problem that’s just now taking root. He believes the issue, dubbed screen sightedness, could increase in frequency by 50 percent over the next 10 years and half of 30-year-olds could suffer from it by 2033.
Increased smartphone usage along with time spent watching television and using computers is putting children and young people at risk of permanently damaging their vision. One of the main reasons for concern relates to a recent study which found that the average smartphone user holds their device 30cm from their face while some use it as close as 18cm. Newspapers and books, on the other hand, are typically kept at least 40cm from the eyes.
... The technology is being piloted in the UK at high street chain Lloyds Pharmacy. Patients receive a labelled dosage tray, with an extra pill that contains the sensor. This will record the time each dose is taken, while the tracking patch builds up a picture of their health and movements.
A telehealth service gives free medical advice to women lacking healthcare access in the country's biggest city. Salon reports.
A recently launched telehealth service aims to give the poorest sections of society access to basic health advice for free from a mobile phone.
Distance to hospitals and clinics, the cost of transport, and low levels of trust in government-run services leaves men and women unable to seek the medical help they may need.
A strict social code for many women presents an additional obstacle. Low literacy rates – 57 percent of women are illiterate in Pakistan compared with 26 percent of men – and a lack of basic health knowledge compound the problem.
When women are able to travel to a clinic or hospital, they are usually accompanied by a male relative, leaving many unwilling – or unable – to explain their medical problem to the doctor.
Aman Foundation’s telehealth service is the first of its kind in Pakistan, though similar services have been running in India for a few years.
According to the South Korea government, roughly 1 in 5 students is addicted to smartphone use. This addiction is defined as spending more than seven hours a day using the phone and experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and depression when cut off from the device. The Wall Street Journal reports.
Earlier this month, the South Korean government said it plans to provide nationwide counseling programs for youngsters by the end of the year and train teachers on how to deal with students with addiction.
With a mobile-phone penetration rate of more than 100%—meaning some individuals carry more than one handset—and smartphones nearly two-thirds of those devices, the government is setting measures to deal with the problems such heavy exposure has spawned. For comparison, the smartphone penetration rate in the U.S. was 50% as of June, according to the International Telecommunication Union.
Korea has had problems with online-game addiction among teenagers for years thanks to widespread availability of high-speed Internet services. Now that smartphone penetration among teens and children is rising at a faster pace than other groups, the age at which people find it hard to wean themselves.
We've read about teenagers being sleep deprived because they text all night, but now a prominent Australian researcher warned that the light generated by backlit smartphones and tablets can mess with our body clocks.
The proliferation of mobile phones in low- and middle-income countries over the past decade has been rapid and remarkable. This boom in mobile technology offers an incredible opportunity to provide historically marginalized groups, such as girls and women, with increased access to information and education to improve their health and wellbeing. Forbes reports.
... The benefits of mobile technology reach far beyond the bounds of health in empowering women. For example, 41% of female mobile phone owners enjoy increased economic and professional opportunities due to owning a mobile, and 85% report feeling more independent because of their mobile phone.
The use of a smartphone application significantly improves patients' preparation for a colonoscopy, according to new research presented today at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
The preparation process, which begins days in advance of the procedure, includes dietary restrictions and requires specific bowel preparation medication to be taken at strict intervals. The better the preparation, the easier it is for doctors to see cancer and precancerous polyps in the colon. The study, which was conducted by the gastroenterologists of Arizona Digestive Health in Phoenix, featured the first doctor-designed app of its kind.
The debate surrounding the safety of using cell phones has raged for years, most recently coming to a head in San Francisco, where local leaders attempted to pass a law requiring retailers to display the amount of radiation emitted by each cell phone. DVICE reports.
In a case that has been closely monitored by mobile phone industry players across the U.S., San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has agreed to drop the warning requirement after a lengthy legal battle with the CTIA. The argument made by the CTIA claimed that such warnings could serve to mislead consumers regarding the risks associated with cell phone use, particularly in light of the fact that the FCC has deemed the devices safe to use.
By hooking a variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete physical — without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor's office. Wireless Week reports.
Blood pressure? Just plug the arm cuff into the phone for a quick reading.
Heart OK? Put your fingers in the right spot, and the squiggly rhythm of an EKG appears on the phone's screen.
Plug in a few more devices and you could have photos of your eardrum (Look, no infection!) and the back of your eye, listen to your heartbeat, chart your lung function, even get a sonogram.
... The University of California, San Francisco, hopes to enroll a staggering 1 million people in its Health eHeart Study to see whether using mobile technology, including smartphone tracking of people's heart rate and blood pressure, could help treat and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Community health workers receive new cell phones as incentives to continue their malaria rapid reporting. PBS reports.
With the use of mobile technology, health workers with Akros Research have been able to double the number of clinics and patients they visit per day - when previously they traveled upwards of 100 miles to reach community health volunteers in southern Zambia's heavily impacted areas.
... Several key interventions have been implemented since 2000, including distributing long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and antimalarial medicines to curb the disease. The introduction of rapid reporting systems, using mobile phones to provide real-time data and the detection of high-infection areas, has health workers and volunteers excited about ending malaria deaths for good.
A new study suggests a potential link between the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cell phone use, reports Psych Central.
For the study, researcher Yoon Hwan Byun of the Department of Medicine at Dankook University College of Medicine in South Korea set out to discover whether radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) affect developing brains with prolonged exposure. Past research has suggested a link between prenatal cell phone exposure and the risk of conduct and behavior problems in children.
For the study, Byun evaluated more than 2,400 elementary school children for ADHD symptoms and cell phone exposure through the use of parental reports..
Two years later, Byun interviewed the participants again and found that children who used cell phones for voice calls were more likely to develop symptoms of ADHD than those who didn’t. However, this was only statistically significant in children who were also exposed to high levels of lead.
Mobile health (mHealth) applications such as text messages could save more than a million lives in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years. SciDevNet reports via @jranck.
The report, produced by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers India, says that mobile phone interventions to ensure patients comply with treatment, medical stock is available and healthcare workers stick to treatment guidelines could save some of the three million lives lost each year across Africa to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and pregnancy-related conditions.
Health communication systems designed for rural, developing countries -- where hospitals are often understaffed and transportation is inadequate -- are being adapted to improve care in U.S. cities. The Atlantic reports.
In the last decade, community health efforts have been made more effective by a simple insight: that time, money, and sometimes even lives can be saved through texting. At St. Gabriel's Hospital in Malawi, for example, 75 community health workers were trained to use text messages to communicate patient information, appointment reminders, and other health-related notifications to patients. Through this mobile health, or mHealth, initiative, the hospital saved approximately 2,048 hours of worker time and $3,000 in fuel, while doubling the capacity of the tuberculosis treatment program.
The case for this growing field in the developing world provokes some controversy, however. Tina Rosenberg, writing in The New York Times, argued recently that the field is in flux. "Roughly a decade after the start of mHealth ... these expectations are far from being met," she writes. "The delivery system is there. But we don't yet know what to deliver.
The Swiss team say the wireless prototype - half an inch (14mm) long - can simultaneously check for up to five different substances in the blood.
The readings are then beamed to the doctor, using Bluetooth technology.
The device's developers hope it will be available to patients within four years.
It is designed to be inserted, using a needle, into the interstitial tissue just beneath the skin of the abdomen, legs or arms. And it could remain there for months before needing to be replaced or removed.
A new video and surrounding research are raising awareness around light pollution — including those lovely, glowing screens we’re so fond of carrying around in our pockets. VentureBeat reports.
We take it for granted as a side effect of modern life, but researchers at the International Dark-Sky Association say it’s causing cancer, increasing insomnia, spurring on sexual dysfunction, and hurting the migratory patterns of animal species.
According to Haaretz, Partner Communications, which operates in Israel under the name Orange, will pay NIS 400,000 to a customer who contracted cancer in his ear.
The customer, who is in his 50s, sued Partner in May, claiming that intensive use of the device resulted in an aggressive lymphoma near his left ear.
The customer is an attorney who had converted the secure room – a reinforced room that doubles as a bomb shelter and is common in most new Israeli homes – into an office. He claimed that he conducted a great deal of phone calls and business from the room, where cellular reception was low. In places without good phone reception, such as elevators and secure rooms, the electromagnetic radiation from cellular phones is higher than usual.
Partner's settlement is a rare act. The company says they opted to pay the customer as a humanitarian gesture.
Today, a deep sigh at your smartphone thanks to SpiroSmart, could reveal a well-developed emotional connection with your gadget. But one day those sighs could tip off your doctor to a latent or worsening lung condition. MIT Technology Review reports.
For patients with conditions like asthma, chronic bronchitis, or cystic fibrosis doctors sound out their pipes using a spirometer, a device that measures volumes of air breathed in and out. The exhaled volume indicates if the patient’s air passages are clogged and leading to difficulty breathing.
A metal-free antenna may help scientists find out, once and for all, whether cell phones cause cancer. PopSci reports.
Researchers from Princeton have designed an antenna that emits radio frequencies in the same way as cell phones, but doesn’t include any of a phone’s pesky metal parts. They’ve already put the antenna next to a cow’s brain inside an MRI and tracked the resulting hot spots in the brain.
In the future, the antenna system should allow scientists to build an accurate 3-D map of cell phone radiation in the human brain--a crucial step in determining how much energy the organ is exposed to at a time, and whether those little doses might add up to a real threat.
Read full article. Image: Electro-Magnetic Model Electro-magnetic waves from the phone’s antenna penetrate the brain several centimeters deep. Paul Wootton
The Act, which is sponsored by Rep Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, provides for cell phone radiation warnings on mobile phones. It would also create a new national research program to study cell phones and health and require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the outdated Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
In a letter to Rep. Kucinich informing him of the group’s endorsement, the AAP expressed concerns that exposure to cell phone radiation might be especially dangerous for pregnant woman and children.
Behavioral addictions such as compulsive cell phone use or pathological gambling are not currently diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the primary diagnostic reference manual of mental illness used by psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health workers. A new version of the DSM is expected in 2013, and many observers expect that one or more behavioral addictions may be added.
Researchers from the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) released study results showing that cell phones can cause allergies. Specifically Blackberry and flip phones. The Examiner reports.
Research studies have indicated that these cell phones contain nickel and cobalt which are known to cause allergies.
"Both metals can cause an allergic reaction, including dry, itchy patches along the cheek bones, jaw line, and ears," said allergist Tania Mucci, M.D., lead study author and an ACAAI member.
The good news is that testing showed both the Droid and iPhone do not contain nickel or cobalt.
We take them everywhere, which one reason mobile phones get so ... germy. People set them on public bathroom sinks, on mats at the gym and drop them on floors and hand them to friends to show off photos. The Wall Street Journal reports.
When you combine a cellphone's proximity to your ears, nose and mouth with its bacteria-loving warmth, the result can be harmful to your health. This hazard, says Jeffrey Cain, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and chief of family medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado, often goes unnoticed. "Some things we think are personal are actually more public than we imagine." Bacteria from a phone can cause flu, pinkeye or diarrhea, says Dr. Cain. People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom," says Dr. Cain.
For people who want to keep a clean touch screen, there is a disconnect between what doctors and medical researchers advise and what device makers suggest for phone sanitizing.
While products are marketed specifically for mobile-phone cleaning, they can sometimes damage the phone's screen coating or fail to remove 100% of the germs.
The Daily Mail reports that Italy's Supreme Court has ruled that mobile phones can give you cancer in a landmark case that could open the gates for other victims to take legal action.
Businessman Innocente Marcolini, 60, was diagnosed with a brain tumour after using his mobile phone at work for up to six hours a day for 12 years.
Italy's Supreme Court found that there was a 'causal link' between his phone use and his illness.
Experts now predict a barrage of legal claims by victims who believe their own illness was caused by their use of mobile phones.
Oncologist and professor of environmental mutagenesis Angelo Gino Levis and neurosurgeon Dr Giuseppe Grasso gave evidence supporting Mr Marcolini's claim.
They argued that mobile and cordless phones emit electromagnetic radiation causing damage to cells and increasing the risk of tumours. But they added that many tumours don't appear for 15 years making short-term studies on mobile phone use redundant.
The jury is still out, however, for many scientists who claim it is still unknown what, if any, link there is between mobiles and brain tumours.
Researchers have mapped precisely how human travel affects the spread of malaria in Kenya by using cell-phone location data. The effort is the largest-ever to use cell-phone data as an epidemiological tool. MIT Technology Review reports.
The study captured the anonymized travel habits of nearly 15 million Kenyans between June 2008 and June 2009. Their movements were gleaned from 11,920 cell towers. The data was then mapped against the incidence of malaria as recorded by health officials.
The results made clear that malaria outbreaks during that period began in Kenya's Lake Victoria region and spread east toward the capital of Nairobi. This suggests that health officials could avert transmissions by focusing their efforts in the lake region, says Caroline Buckee, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study, which is being published today in the journal Science.
... Mosquitoes spread the malaria parasite. But infected people—particularly those who are immune and travel without feeling symptoms—can spread the disease widely if they're later bitten by mosquitoes that go on to bite other people. Malaria kills about a million people each year, most of them children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa.