We'll respond shortly.
Malawi based non-profit organization founded in 2000.
Baobab is a tree found throughout Africa and Australia. Local legend says the hyena that was given the baobab tree during the creation time planted it upside-down.
Baobab presented at RailsConf Europe in 2007. They knew of her interest in epidemiology, programming, Africa. She subsequently flew to africa, and visited the Kamuzu central hospital in Malawi.
She got to know the guys working there and what they do. Jeff Rafter was the main contact.
The main focus of Baobab is AIDS
What does that mean? Africa post-colonial was on the upswing, but the AIDS epidemic took a giant toll, lowering the life expectancy from about 60 to almost 40 years old!
Malawi is a land-locked country in sub-Saharan Africa, with the 2nd fastest growing economy in Africa.
In 2002 a major famine, a major contributing factor to the deaths was AIDS.
Solution: Digitize important data:
Hardware (known as the I-Opener) is portable tablets with 56k modem. It bombed in US and Europe, but they got a bunch, and have hacked them to have Ethernet, Power-over-ethernet, Touchscreen, and a Bar code scanner.
Government has instituted a national health id as a barcode to help facilitate treatement. If you plug in a bar code scanner, you can read their data without even typing their name.
Bought I-Openers off of Ebay from the USA, the owner of which eventually donated 2000 units. Set up a wireless mesh network, which is ad-hoc node-base routing. It’s also self healing – if one of the nodes is down, you just skip right over it (very good for frequent and sporadic power outages). Power was provided by rechargeable batteries which can be used when the power goes out.
The data model was complex.
The system as a whole accomplishes the following goals:
When you are making $2 per day, you cannot afford a pill that costs $100.
Presented at RailsConf in berlin, but there was not response, because they were not set up for people around the world to contribute:
electronic patient administration is possible even in the developing world
and it’s better than the typical first world paper records
If you have no existing infrastructure, you might as well start with the latest and greatest thing!
Q: Is the mesh network the same as the OLPC mesh network?
A: As far as I know, no. It is local to Malawi. It is an infrastructure mesh, not laptop to laptop.
Q: How widely is it deployed? Of the 280 doctors?
A: About 265 of them, so almost all. It has plans to go outside Malawi.
Q: How is Baobab involved with education and prevention of AIDS?
A: Baobab’s main focus is to deal with doctors and patients, not directly involved in prevention and education which is done by other groups.
Q: How are the african engineers learning about ruby and rails?
A: Some of them had no programming experience whatsoever, others knew .NET or PHP. They learned everything from scratch with peepcode and other tutorials. One of the best contributions we can make is to publish information on these best practices.