Mobile phone subscriptions have overtaken fixed lines as the preferred method of communication across Latin America and the Caribbean, with penetration rates of almost 90 percent. Some forecasts indicate that subscriptions in the region could grow by 8.2 percent in 2010. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), mobile subscriptions globally will surpass the 5 billion mark by the end of the year—an estimated two-thirds of which are expected to be in low- and middle-income countries. That puts the mobile industry in a position to play a pivotal role in tackling health care for the underserved. Yet health policy leaders have only just begun to address the opportunities of the wireless information revolution sweeping their countries.
Yesterday was World Hepatitis Day, which I only became aware of in the evening. So, I took the occasion to look around and to try learn more about Hep C, which is another of the many diseases where the rich live and poor die. Hep C is a serious problem for many in our communities, and an issue that needs more activists to take up. Hepatitis Day raised some awareness, including my own, but remains hidden under the bed. Now, the morning after, how can global health advocates get Hep C up the agendas of both the ‘decision-makers’ and of the general public? Clearly it’s an uphill struggle – if you visit the WHO website to find some basic facts, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/ you get this “Hepatitis C : This fact sheet is being updated. For further information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org”. If WHO can’t even get the basic fact sheet ready for World Hep Day,following a resolution at the recent WHA, getting this issue onto everyone’s agenda is not going to be easy, as some HIV-HCV activists have already learned in recent years. Below is the statement from some of these strong comrades: