M-KIFAFA: Mobile Technology for Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder and is one of the world’s most prevalent noncommunicable diseases. Around 90% of people with epilepsy in developing countries are not receiving appropriate treatment. In Kenya for example there is a huge gap in epilepsy treatment. To reduce this gap the M-Kikafa project is started, to empower primary health workers, social service providers, caregivers and patients and compile evidence base on epilepsy management for policy makers using ICT. More

Angolese VISA misadventures & how our mobile phone saved the day

Maarten Kuiper worked as an intern at TTC before going on a six-month journey from Amsterdam to Cape Town, accompanied by his good friend Vincent and a zebra striped Land Rover. Along the way he writes about remarkable aspects of mobile phones in Africa.

‘Vous n’avez pas droit d’une visa…’, the annoyed gatekeeper tells us from behind his iron barred window. We are now for the third time at the Angolan embassy in Pointe Noire, Congo, our seventh visit to a diplomatic representative office of this African state in six months. Travelling by car from Amsterdam to Cape Town along the western African coast in the narrow time span of five months, Angola is a country we pretty much have to pass through, and thus need a transit visa for. During the preparations for our trip we’ve come across many stories of fellow travellers who’ve gotten stranded on this little piece of paper, but as we left last March we were under the assumption that we had our affairs well in order. Standing outside of the consulate in Pointe Noire, this assumption is proven wrong. We present you with a brief history of our misadventures with the representatives of Angola before and after this pivotal moment:

  • Visit 1 – Consulate of Angola in Rotterdam, The Netherlands: As a rule, most transit visas should be applied for in one’s country of origin. Each visa has a validity of two months, and as we had no hope of travelling the many kilometres between our two countries within that time, this posed a problem to us. In Rotterdam, luckily, we met a very helpful lady who offered the solution to apply and receive our visa in Rotterdam, and successively had it extended at the Angolan consulate in Libreville, Gabon. So far, so good.
  • Visit 2 – Consulate of Angola in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (two weeks after first visit): We picked up our passports, with visa, and were on our way, direction South Africa!
  • Visit 3 – Consulate of Angola in Cotonou, Benin: Continuing horror stories of fellow travellers urged us to see if we could get our visa extended a little earlier. This is not done at this office, we are told, we should try in Gabon.
  • Visit 4 – Consulate of Angola in Libreville, Gabon: We arrived, freshly showered and neatly dressed, ready to have our visa extended as agreed. This is not done at this office, we are told again, we should try in Congo. This time however, we didn’t take no for an answer that easily, especially since we’ve heard of many others having their visa refused at that location as well. We decided to call our contact in Rotterdam and even managed to get her on the phone with the consul in Libreville, but to no avail. ‘This office is too far from Angola to extend visas to non-residents, but you will have no problems in Pointe Noire’, we were told mockingly by a choir of three heavyset, well dressed consulate employees. Before verbal inevitable conflict might have jeopardized our chances on this visa all together, once again we returned home [read; to our rooftop tent] empty handed.
  • Visit 5 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo: Anxious but hopeful we arrived in Pointe Noire. This time we were told to wait outside the gate at a small barred window until the official opening time; 09.30. After hearing us out, the gatekeeper conferred briefly on the phone with a superior before stating that we had no chance of getting our visa extended here, we should go to Brazzaville.

At this point our desperation/ annoyance with this Angolan disinterested and unhelpful bureaucracy had reached a new high, and we decided not to go back until we could get in touch with our contact in Rotterdam. We managed to get a hold of her the following morning, and luckily she promised to do all within her power to help us. Anxiously we awaited a call-back in a Congolese cyber café, when finally the phone rang. For some reason the consulate in Rotterdam did not have the correct number of their colleagues here in Pointe Noire, if we by any chance had it. ‘No’ is our answer, but feeling a solution might be close at hand, we jumped into our Land Rover and raced towards the consulate.

  • Visit 6 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo: ‘Vous n’avez pas droit d’une visa.’ The gatekeeper was clearly very practiced in the art of refusal, but was nonetheless getting fairly annoyed by our persistence. At this point he even denied supplying us with his office’s phone number, as we had no business with them anyway. Our last chance was to call Rotterdam, pushed our mobile phone into the gatekeeper’s hands and demanded a parley in Portuguese. To our surprise he accepted to take the call, and shortly thereafter even disappeared into the consulate, with our phone. Fifteen minutes later we were told to return the following day with all our papers to apply for a visa. The previously vicious gatekeeper was now all of the sudden our new best friend, trying to start a negotiation to buy our smart phone as it was the best one he had ever seen. We respectfully declined; we needed it to arrange our visas.

Aftermath:

  • Visit 7 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo (one day after last visit): We delivered our passports and our told to pick our passports at 13:00.
  • Visit 8 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo: ‘Not yet ready, please return 9:30 tomorrow morning.’
  • Visit 9 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo: ‘Not yet ready, please return 13:00 this afternoon.’
  • Visit 10 – Consulate of Angola in Pointe Noire, Congo: ‘Not yet ready, please return at 15:30.’ ‘That’s okay ma’am, we’ll wait right here until you’re ready.’ Forty-five minutes later we finally had our valid multiple entry visa for Angola, and we could be on our way again. All out hurray!

Finally, we’ve spent more time waiting for this visa than we did actually passing Angola, crossing the 1.900 kilometres between the borders with Congo and Namibia within 72 hours (many thanks to the Chinese and their tireless tarmac-laying efforts). As we have our mind set upon actually reaching Cape Town and were already slightly pressed for time, we chose to drive on. But Angola is a strikingly beautiful country filled with hospitable people, rusty scenic shipwrecks and, as we suspect, state numbing corruption. All in all a beautiful and interesting country that we highly recommend you to visit. If you can get the visa, of course.

TTC at this year’s International AIDS Conference

AIDS 2012, the XIX International AIDS Conference, will be held July 22nd through July 27th in Washington DC. Prominent world leaders will be joining close to 3,000 professionals working in the HIV field to discuss the progress and potential of the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year, the conference will be exploring the role of mHealth, featuring sessions on using mobile technology as an HIV surveillance tool, pediatric HIV prevention method, and information-sharing platform.

TTC will be showcasing the potential and role of mobile technology in turning the tide on HIV and other diseases. In a workshop we will share our best practices, experiences and lessons learnt on using mobile phones to impact HIV behavioral change.

Background workshop
Mobile technologies present a unique opportunity to address health care delivery challenges and improve health outcomes in low and middle income countries. The strong penetration of mobile phone networks allows people in hard to reach areas to obtain health-related information. The portability and flexibility of mobile devices means community health workers can have decision making support so they can do some of the tasks of formal health care providers. This workshop will cover these and other advantages of mobile technologies for responding to HIV. Participants will learn about the state of the field of ‘mhealth’. They will also learn about experiences and best practices in the cost-effective use of mobile technologies for such interventions as behaviour change, health education, and treatment, including adherence to medication. Based on their newly acquired knowledge, participants will explore interactively how they can use mobile technologies to address the specific challenges they encounter in their daily HIV work

Agenda

  • Date: Wednesday, July 25
  • Time: 14:30 – 18:00
  • Location: Mini room 2, streetlevel
  •  Welcome and overview of the content and structure of the workshop: Patricia Mechael, mHealth Alliance, Executive Director
  • Introduction to the speakers: Louise van Deth, STOP AIDS NOW!, Executive Director
  • PresentationThe current landscape of the use of mobile phones for work on HIV in resource poor settings: A general introduction, Patricia Mechael, mHealth Alliance, Executive Director
  • PresentationSupportive mhealth: Using mobile systems in prevention of mother to child transmission and HIV support services, Peter Benjamin, CellLife, General Manager
  • Presentation:Best practices, experiences and lessons learnt on using mobile phones to impact HIV behavioural changeEunice NamirembeTTC (Uganda), Programme Manager
  • PresentationUse of mobile technology to improve HIV Care and Retention: A country case study from Swaziland, Dr. Charles Azih, Swaziland National AIDS Programme & MaxART: For Better health and Zero New HIV Infections supported by STOP AIDS NOW! and Clinton Health Access Initiative, Senior Research and Data Officer
  • Interactive discussion and small group exercises
  • Summary and wrap up: Patricia Mechael, mHealth Alliance, Executive Director

How to access family planning services via SMS and IVR?

As health practitioners, politicians and entrepreneurs from all walks of life gathered in London for the Family Planning Health Summit, the rest of the world commemorated World Population Day on July 11th 2012 with this year’s global theme being “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services”. The focus of the family planning summit was to invest in family planning in order to reduce maternal deaths and improve women’s and girls’ health. I hope that the conference created momentum and was able to highlight this need to invest in family planning which will in turn make it a lot easier to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) 4 and 5. Target 5b of the MDG’s is to “Achieve Universal Access to Reproductive Health by 2015″.
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5 Burning questions about TTC finally answered!

I have barely started my internship at the TTC office in Amsterdam, but it already feels like I have been working here for months, in a good way of course. The atmosphere and collaboration between the colleagues is dynamic. I know what TTC is, I know what we do, but still there are a few question marks that I had. These, I would like to share with you.
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TTC sponsors Mobile Monday Kampala

Mobile Monday is a global network of mobile industry professionals, visionaries, developers and entrepreneurs in over 100 cities around the world. Each city chapter discusses issues specific to the local needs in monthly forums. Given the global nature of the mobile industry there is an exchange of ideas and speakers from around the world.  TTC is proud to have joined the list of sponsors of Mobile Monday Kampala: D-Mark Mobile, Smile Telecom, Yo! Uganda, True African, Mountbatten, Owino Solutions, Orange Uganda and UGO. TTC’s first official Mobile Monday Kampala as sponsors took place on 25th June 2012. The event focused on the recent moratorium which was issued by the Ministry of Health in Uganda on new eHealth initiatives in Uganda. The biggest question at the event was “Can innovative mHealth strategies improve delivery of healthcare in Uganda?

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