Dear GKD Members,

We have discussed the important role that wireless technology can play
in expanding access, so I thought you might be particularly interested
in this project: New Use of Wireless Technology: A Giant Leap for Health
Care in Uganda

Holly Ladd
Satellife, Watertown, MA, USA
Tel: (617) 926-9400


OTTAWA The launch of a nationwide, wireless network to improve Uganda's
ability to treat patients and combat the spread of disease was announced
today. The network is built around the countrys well-established cell
phone network, inexpensive handheld computers, and innovative wireless
servers called "Jacks." The technology allows health care workers to
access and share critical information in remote facilities without fixed
telephone lines or regular access to electricity.

The announcement was made by Canadas International Development Research
Centre (IDRC), WideRay, a wireless technology company based in San
Francisco, and SATELLIFE, a non-profit organization focused on improving
health in developing countries. The network was announced in occasion of
the upcoming Emerging Technologies Conference to be held at MIT in
Boston, September 24-25, 2003.

The implementing partner in-country is Uganda Chartered HealthNet (UCH),
started in 1986, as a project of the Makerere University Medical School
in Mulago, to facilitate access to health information using information
and communication technology. Affiliated with SATELLIFE, UCH has a
mission to create access to health information and the tools for
management in a resource poor environment such as Uganda. With
technical, financial and material support from SATELLIFE, Makerere
Faculty of Medicine, UCH has explored a range of communication options
including LEO satellites, dial-up connection email/internet access, and
now the hand-held/Wide Ray communication boxes.

The WideRay Jack servers, which are about the size of a thick textbook
and use long lasting industrial-grade batteries -- a single charge lasts
up to a year -- are being installed in health care facilities across
Uganda. Health workers can link to the device using the infrared port on
their handheld computers to retrieve or submit information, and to
access email.

"This is going to be a giant leap forward for Ugandan health care. It
could save thousands of lives and have significant benefits in health
outcomes for Uganda's citizens," said Holly Ladd, Executive Director of

This project will provide health practitioners in the field with tools
that were previously unavailable or outdated. For example, users can now
access the latest treatment guidelines for tuberculosis and malaria and
learn of the most cost-effective approaches to fight HIV/AIDS, which
infects one in 10 adults in Uganda. They can also read the latest
medical journals and textbooks from around the world, in a digital form.

The technology should also improve health care administration by
reducing the time taken to submit, analyze and respond to reports and
requests for supplies.

Recognizing the potential of this technology for Uganda, Connectivity
Africa, a Canadian government initiative managed by IDRC and funded from
Canadas Fund for Africa, contributed $761,000 CAD to the development of
this information network.

"The convergence of new technologies low-cost handhelds, broad and
reliable wireless coverage and WideRays innovative use of it have made
applications that once seemed impossible in Africa a reality," said
Richard Fuchs, Director of IDRCs Information and Communication
Technologies for Development (ICT4D) program area. "This project will be
a powerful example to the rest of the world of what is possible with
wireless technology."

Canadas International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the
worlds leading institutions in the generation and application of new
knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For more
than 30 years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers
from the developing world in their search for the means to build
healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.

See backgrounder below for more information.


Diane Hardy, Media Relations Officer
IDRC, Ottawa, Canada
Cell (until Sept. 26 only): (613) 293-6588
Tel: (613) 236-6163, ext. 2570

Leslie Amadio
WideRay Corporation, San Francisco, CA, USA
Tel: (415) 975-3353 or 1-877-WIDERAY

Holly Ladd
Satellife, Watertown, MA, USA
Tel: (617) 926-9400


Uganda, like many developing countries that lack the infrastructure
readily available in the developed world, is leapfrogging traditional
fixed-line communication networks and adopting mobile, cellular
technologies to provide communication links to remote locations. There
are already three competing mobile-telephone service providers in the
country, the largest of which is MTN Uganda. The same networks that are
providing villages with their first voice connection to the outside
world are being used to deliver data to where its needed most, to
community health workers.

Ugandas wireless health care initiative is an expansion of SATELLIFE
trials with personal digital assistants (PDAs), or handheld computers,
that began in 2001. The projects concluded that PDAs, which can be used
in environments where computers are impractical, are powerful tools that
can provide critical, timely information to African health workers. The
PDAs were found to be especially useful in health administration,
ordering and tracking medical supplies, and delivering new treatment

In scaling up the project to provide nationwide coverage for the health
care initiative, a central wireless server was installed in Ugandas
capital, Kampala. It is linked to computer systems at the Ministry of
Health, and at HealthNet Uganda, a local SATELLIFE affiliate housed at
Makerere University, also in Kampala. The server manages the entire
network and communicates with "Jacks" in the field over commercial
cellular phone networks (GSM).

"Were rapidly approaching the point where GSM coverage is ubiquitous in
Uganda and other parts of the developing world," said Erik Van Veen,
General Manager of MTN Uganda. "WideRays architecture could benefit an
enormous number of industries even outside of health care."

The WideRay technology is self-contained -- it comes with industrial
grade batteries that can hold their charge for up to a year and a
"packet" radio that uses the same standard as the countrys cell-phone
network. Each Jack stores content sent to it from the central computers
in Kampala and, in turn, relays reports and emails received from the
PDAs back to the capital. These features make the technology readily
scalable to any size deemed necessary and reliable in remote locations,
including those with no electricity or fixed telephone lines.

"Many of the users of this system have never used a computer before, let
alone had connectivity to this kind of information," explains Dr. Nelson
Sewankambo, Dean of Makerere University Medical School in Kampala, one
of the first locations to be brought live on the wireless system. "When
they see how empowering this data can be at the point of care they are
instantly hooked."

Previously, handwritten reports and drug shipment requests took months
just to reach Kampala, where it would typically be months longer before
data was analyzed so as to be useful to administrators. Information can
now be acted upon on the day after submission, and manual error has been
dramatically reduced.

"There are literally millions of points in the world where on-location
wireless data services provide immense value, but the costly deployment
of a broadband back-end and administrative resources is overkill, and in
many cases, unworkable," said Saul Kato, WideRays CEO. "Our work in
Uganda is a graphic illustration of this reality and a perfect example
of the types of scalable, distributed systems that our technology
enables for the first time."

About Connectivity Africa at IDRC

Connectivity Africa is an initiative of the Canadian government,
announced at the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis. Building on Canada's
experience in connectivity projects in Africa, it will adapt Canadian
expertise and models to the needs of African countries, particularly in
the areas of economic development. Connectivity Africa is being
implemented by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in
partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and funded
from Canadas Fund for Africa.


Over the past 14 years, SATELLIFE has been a leader in developing
solutions to the everyday information needs of health professionals
working in communities where AIDS and malaria are commonplace, but
medical journals and the Internet are an unaffordable luxury. Through
innovative applications of information and communication technology,
SATELLIFE breaks down barriers to information access. From major cities
to remote villages, SATELLIFE extends the power of knowledge and the
promise of better health. These efforts span the globe, with over 20,000
individuals in 120 countries sharing knowledge and building healthier

About WideRay

WideRay enables the deployment of "proximity services" targeted,
on-demand, on-location delivery of content, transactions, software, and
services to end-user mobile devices. WideRay provides a single-box
communications, application, and content server called a Service Point
that supports instant ad-hoc connections with infrared, Bluetooth, and
802.11B equipped devices. WideRay's architecture drastically reduces the
cost of local-area multiple location wireless deployments. WideRay's
customers include TeliaSonera, GM, CES, CTIA, Sony, Palm, Microsoft,
Insignia, and the San Francisco Giants. WideRay is privately held and
located in San Francisco, California.

About Uganda Chartered HealthNet

Uganda Chartered HealthNet (UCH)was started in 1986, as a project of the
Makerere University Medical School in Mulago, to facilitate access to
health information using information and communication technology.
Affiliated with SATELLIFE, UCH has a mission to create access to health
information and the tools for management in a resource poor environment
such as Uganda.

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