A trial of a mobile-based disease surveillance service in Botswana is to expand following feedback on its first year of usage. The aim of the project is to quicken the identification of malaria outbreaks through the use of mobile technology.

The service is offered by a partnership of HP, local cellular operator Mascom which is MTN-controlled, local NGO Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (Ping) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).

According to a corporate HP blog, there have been a total of 1,068 real-time notifications and updates on disease patterns to officials with the country’s Ministry of Health and healthcare workers since the project started in June 2011. Eight-nine potential outbreaks have been identified in the Chobe region where the trial took place.

The expansion plans involve 20 additional facilities with over 100 health workers trained by June 2012. And then move to an additional 80 facilities by October 2012. There is also a plan to increase the number of diseases monitored beginning with tuberculosis in August this year.

The project equips local health workers with a mobile device to collect malaria data so giving a more complete picture of an outbreak which enables workers to respond more rapidly.

The use of mobile technology quickens up the reporting process which has an obvious impact on response times. Elsewhere  malaria reporting can take four weeks to work through to a decision that there is a serious outbreak. HP says the system under trial can give a picture of an outbreak in only three minutes.

The partners last week received a GBCHealth Business Action on Health Award for their project.