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Role of information and communication networks in malaria survival.

Abstract

Data from 70 different countries is pooled together to construct a panel dataset of health and socio-economic variables for a time span of (1960-2004). The generalized two-stage least squares and panel data models are used to investigate the impact of information and communication network (ICN) variables on malaria death probability. The intensity of ICN is represented by the number of telephone main lines per 1,000 people and the number of television sets per 1,000 people.

The major finding is that the intensity of ICN is associated with reduced probability of deaths of people that are clinically identified as malaria infected. The results are robust for both indicators i.e. interpersonal and mass communication networks and for all model specifications examined.

Quite often symptoms of malaria go unrecognized or untreated. According to the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, 70% of the malaria cases that are treated at home are mismanaged. Up to 82% of all malaria episodes in sub-Saharan Africa are treated outside the formal health sector. Fast and appropriate diagnosis and treatment of malaria is extremely important in reducing morbidity and mortality.

The results suggest that information and communication networks can substantially scale up the effectiveness of the existing resources for malaria prevention. Resources spent in preventing malaria are far less than needed. Expanded information and communication networks will widen the avenues for community based "participatory development", that encourages the use of local information, knowledge and decision making. Timely information, immediate care and collective knowledge based treatment can be extremely important in reducing child mortality and achieving the millennium development goal.

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