Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Internet Extends Reach Of Bangladeshi Villagers

Last week the Washington Post had an interesting article about the power of mobile phones. Ndiyo and NextBillion have also blogged about this.

Internet Extends Reach Of Bangladeshi Villagers
Cellphone-Linked Computers Help Break Rural Isolation

By Kevin Sullivan / Wednesday, November 22, 2006; Page A12

CHARKHAI, Bangladesh — The village doctor’s diagnosis was dire: Marium needed immediate surgery to replace two heart valves. The 28-year-old mother of three said she was confused and terrified. She could barely imagine open-heart surgery. She had no idea how her family of farm laborers could pay for an operation that would cost $4,000.

Mahbubul Ambia, who started an Internet center in the town of Charkhai, has helped customers find doctors, make Internet phone calls and communicate by video conference. Mahbubul Ambia, who started an Internet center in the town of Charkhai, has helped customers find doctors, make Internet phone calls and communicate by video conference. The next day, Sept. 16, her father went to see Mahbubul Ambia, who had recently installed the only Internet connection for 20 miles in far northeastern Bangladesh. Ambia sat down at a computer, connected to the Internet by a cable plugged into his cellphone, and searched for cardiac specialists in Dhaka, the capital, 140 miles away. He found one and made an appointment for Marium, who like many people here goes by just one name. The specialist examined her and said she needed only a routine surgical procedure that cost $500.

Villages in one of the world’s poorest countries, long isolated by distance and deprivation, are getting their first Internet access, all connected over cellphones. And in the process, millions of people who have no land-line telephones, and often lack electricity and running water, in recent months have gained access to services considered basic in richer countries: weather reports, e-mail, even a doctor’s second opinion.

Cellphones have become a new bridge across the digital divide between the world’s rich and poor, as innovators use the explosive growth of cellphone networks to connect people to the Internet. Bangladesh now has about 16 million cellphone subscribers — and 2 million new users each month — compared with just 1 million land-line phones to serve a population of nearly 150 million people.

Full Story.

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Written by Mahad Ibrahim

November 27, 2006 at 7:10 pm

One Response

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  1. The Ndiyo group has done some work on mobile phone-based internet cafes. See the Jan 2006 summary on the Ndiyo website about their project in Bangladesh – very similar to the Post article.

    Ben

    November 27, 2006 at 11:11 pm


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