Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications technology is saving tens of thousands of infants from mother-to-child HIV infection in Africa. Sequoia Technology, an M2M solutions company, and its long-time technology partner Telit Wireless Solutions, are enabling rural medical clinics in Africa to wirelessly receive HIV test results for expectant mothers within days of testing, a first for many rural villages.
This development has allowed mothers with HIV-positive results to begin anti-retroviral drugs much earlier in their pregnancies, reducing the chances of transferring the virus to their newborns from 40% to less than 1%. Nearly half of all babies born with HIV in Mozambique, for example, die before the age of two.
Funded by the Clinton Foundation (http://www.clintonfoundation.org) and Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, the HIV Early Infant Diagnosis Project has already saved an estimated 20,000 babies from infection in the first six months of operations. The successful programme is now being expanded to nine other African nations including Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Sequoia Technology developed a small, inexpensive printer incorporating SMS (short message service) wireless protocol used for mobile phone text messaging. Utilising the GC864-Quad V2 wireless modules from Telit Wireless Solutions, the SMS printers are connected to a complex GSM cellular gateway that allows lab results to be wirelessly and securely sent to printers installed at the rural clinics. The GC864 modules are one of the smallest GSM/GPRS quad-band modules with industrial connectors on the market.
“There’s very little infrastructure in Africa – most of these clinics cannot be reached by car, have no mail service and no landlines,” says Nick Lidington, managing director, Sequoia Technology. “The challenge was to use the only mode of communication you can reliably say is everywhere in Africa – the cellular network. The printer kit and gateway software we developed has received interest from health ministers throughout the continent. It can be applied to obtaining lab results for other diseases as well, such as malaria and tuberculosis, so life-saving treatments can begin much sooner.”
Nearly 400 clinics in Mozambique are now outfitted with the 12-volt printers for their low cost, simple operation and security. Lidington adds that the advanced monitoring software included with the system can be a powerful tool for health ministers to track where illnesses are appearing and apply medical resources accordingly.
“Telit was the obvious choice to partner with in this life-saving project because they have such robust, high quality modules and M2M design expertise. This proved invaluable in building the highly complex and critical gateway module software,” says Tim Clayton, wireless business manager for Sequoia. “During the pilot phase, we had to prove to the Clinton Foundation we could do 100,000 tests without losing a bit of data. We passed with flying colours.”
“Telit is proud to be working with our partner Sequoia on a project of such obvious value and significance,” says Dominikus Hierl, chief marketing officer at Telit Wireless Solutions. “We look forward to creating additional M2M applications with our technology partners that enhance and save lives around the world.”
Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Sequoia Technology Group Ltd (http://www.sequoia.co.uk) is an independently-owned technology solutions specialist in the field of telemetry and wireless M2M modules, terminals and antennas.
Telit Wireless Solutions is a brand of Telit Communications PLC (AIM: TCM — http://www.telit.com), an enabler of M2M communications worldwide providing wireless module technology, services and connectivity. Dedicated to M2M and with more than 12 years of experience in the market, the company constantly enhances its technology with six R&D centres across the globe.