According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data, in 2007, there were more than 45 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Africa, while at the same time, there were 16 fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants1. The mobile phone provides a significant opportunity to reach people who until now have not had access to technology solutions. A recent IDC study2 discovered that even when wireless technology is available, healthcare professionals preferentially use mobile phones on the job.

Cellscope, a camera phone microscope

Cellscope, a camera phone microscope

In order to demonstrate the potential of mobile phones to enable the delivery of healthcare-related services on the African continent, Microsoft Research is now accepting proposals for cash grants to help Africa-based researchers conduct one-year studies on the potential of mobile technologies in the delivery of healthcare-related services on the African continent. Proposals, written in English, will be accepted only through the online application tool.

A maximum of five awards will be granted, of up to US$25,000 each, including airfare and travel costs for attendance at the final reporting event. The application deadline is 18 November 2009, 17:00 (UTC). The results will be released in February 2010. Prospective applicants are encouraged to read the full award details before submitting their applications.

This is a great opportunity for Africa-based researchers who specialize in mobile technologies.  You still have more than two weeks before the deadline; you can work out something. Give it a try!

This call for proposals reminds me of Josh Nesbit’s highly successful system that uses mobile technology in the delivery of health care in low resource settings.

1International Telecommunication Union

2Silvia Piai, Massimiliano Claps, Western Europe, Healthcare Sector, Infrastructure Technology Adoption and Investment Plans: An IDC Survey, IDC Study #MS13N, Nov 2006.