Elsewhere online
October 29, 2014

Red Cross Uses Texts as a Weapon in West Africa Ebola Fight

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.