Limits of mobile telephony

Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on November 28, 2014  /  1 Comments

Nothing better illustrates what we have always said about ICT’s role in development than this tragic story from Sierra Leone:

But none of it was reaching Isatu Sesay, a sick teenager. She flipped on her left side, then her right, writhing on a foam mattress, moaning, grimacing, mumbling and squinching her eyes in agony as if she were being stabbed. Her family and neighbors called an Ebola hotline more than 35 times, desperate for an ambulance.

For three days straight, Isatu’s mother did not leave her post on the porch, face gaunt, arms slack, eyes fixed up the road toward the capital, Freetown, where the Ebola command center was less than 45 minutes away.

“This is nonsense,” said M.C. Kabia, coordinator of the volunteer Ebola task force in Isatu’s area. Help rarely came, he said, and people were quietly dying all over the place.

Without the phone, there would be no way to call, yes. Without the phone, there would be no hotline. But what use is any of it, when there is no response?

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