Title of Work

Treating and preventing infectious diseases in low and middle-income countries. Does technology really work?

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

October 2021


Background: Despite large efforts toward their eradication, infectious diseases are a major cause of global mortality, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). As mobile phone penetration has exceeded other infrastructure in LMICs, mobile technology has become a tool in disease treatment and prevention. The aim of this review is to evaluate the use and effectiveness of mobile technology in infectious disease treatment and prevention in LMICs.Methods: Following Cochrane guidelines, we searched PubMed and CINAHL databases to retrieve peer-reviewed articles published from 2005 to 2019. Search terms captured interventions with pre and posttest data that used mobile technology to treat or prevent an infectious disease in a LMIC. Results: In total, we found 840 articles, 34 of which met the inclusion criteria. We identified three main uses of mobile technology to aid in disease treatment or prevention: one way SMS messages (n=23), two-way SMS messages (n=8), and platform (n=2). The 34 articles measured 43 different outcomes which fell into one or more of the following categories: medication/appointment adherence (N=24), improved patient symptoms (N=11), and/or participation in health services (N=6). Of the 43 measured outcomes, 40% (17/43) showed a significant improvement in the treatment vs control groups.Conclusion: Mobile technology is a tool used in LMICs to treat or prevent infectious diseases however, their use does not always improve patient outcomes. As other advantages may increase the use of mobile phones, interventions aimed to improve patient outcomes should be carefully designed.

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