(Reuters Health) – Dozens of patients in Zimbabwe undergoing cleft lip and palate surgery had first learned about the opportunity from an SMS text to their phones, a small study found.
So-called mobile health, including text-message “blasts” to a wide swath of mobile phone users, could be the key to communicating with hard-to-reach patients in sub-Saharan Africa and other remote parts of the world, the authors write online November 16 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
Some 5 billion people in the world lack access to safe surgery and anesthesia, the study team notes.
“Everyone has a phone, no matter how poor, and they come into the clinic with those phones. How can we use that to help?” said study author Dr. David Shaye of Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, who travels to Zimbabwe annually to provide cleft lip and palate surgery.
“Even a Maasai tribe member from