Health and education initiative reaches rural Ethiopian villages

Thousands of people in some of Ethiopia’s most remote villages now have access to 3G connectivity. The Millennium Village Project (MVP) has extended to Koraro, in northern Ethiopia, with infrastructure and services from Ericsson providing voice and data communications to the remote village.

The project is bringing 3G connectivity to over 4000 students as well as their teachers in two schools via the Connect To Learn initiative, providing access to modern learning and teaching resources through a cloud-computing solution.

Ericsson’s Elaine Weidman-Grunewald commented: "Education is key to ending poverty and ensuring a better life for people. ICT can play a vital role in providing access to quality classroom resources for both teacher and student, and fostering social awareness and global understanding which has become a necessity nowadays in secondary education.

The cloud solution is being deployed in two secondary schools, and includes netbooks and wireless terminals that enable students and teachers to access educational resources on the Internet, along with basic ICT skills training for teachers.

Another aspect of the program is health monitoring, which will be used to provide healthcare services directly to households. Weidman-Grunewald notes: "Many of the residents in this area rely on the community clinic for health care, with otherwise little or no access to the most fundamental aspects of health care. Connecting the health clinic in Koraro is one part of a new joint continent-wide campaign that aims to train, equip and deploy one million community health workers throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2015, reaching millions of underserved people."

Although the figure is declining, still around 10% of children die before reaching the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, there were 500 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. Many people suffer unnecessarily from preventable and treatable diseases, from malaria, malnutrition and diarrhoea to tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

In Koraro, community health workers use the Open MRS (medical record system) and a smartphone-based health-data management system to collect information and report on malaria and other diseases, the number of births, and the incidence of malnutrition and the health status of pregnant women during household visits. Many of these residents would otherwise have little or no access to the most fundamental aspects of health care services.

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