The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is using mobile communication to help stem the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, sending out millions of text messages a month carrying health tips to the country's residents, NPR reports.
Partnering with a local cellphone provider and the African nation's government, the global aid network begin the using a software system called TERA (Trilogy Emergency Relief Application) when the outbreak began in April to send alerts on maintaining hygiene, seeking early treatment, and cooperating with health-care workers.
Cellphones play an increasingly vital communications role in countries with little Internet penetration. In Sierra Leone, 69 percent of the population has a cell connection but only 9 percent uses the mobile Internet. The Red Cross hopes to enlist other governments and phone companies to have TERA operating in 40 countries within five years.