Feature Story

Never better: Extending connectivity to marginalized areas

never better cancer detection

There’s never been a better time to make cancer screening more efficient with the help of technology. One organization in particular is turning this mantra into reality.

Written by: Juliana Rotich

The Africa Cancer Foundation (ACF) is a non-profit organization that promotes cancer awareness and prevention through early detection, provides support to cancer patients and caregivers, and is involved in the development of guidelines and protocols for cancer diagnosis, treatment and healthcare provision. Technology plays a significant role throughout the patient journey. The organization was founded by Dorothy Nyong'o after the early detection and successful cancer treatment of her husband. 

In May, I attended ACF’s cancer-screening event in Meru, Kenya. There were several stations for registration where volunteers took vitals of patients and recorded and collected the data with a smartphone app developed by ACF. Initially, the collection process required each phone to have a line and an individual service plan, which was expensive and inconvenient for ACF. That’s where BRCK stepped in.

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BRCK was incubated and catalyzed by Ushahidi, which has been a Cisco CSR partner since 2009. The BRCK is a rugged, self-powered, mobile WiFi device that connects people and things to the internet in areas of the world with poor infrastructure. By incorporating BRCK into ACF’s efforts, the solution streamlined information collection and minimized the overall costs of data.

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When you imagine internet connectivity in a people-driven context, you seldom remember that it can be used for more than social media or education. More importantly, it can also be used to store and retrieve useful health information, an application that becomes more profound when dealing with a disease like cancer, where early detection and prevention are significant factors in minimizing incidences.

When I speak to global audiences, I often make the point that technology is a means, not an end in itself. To see and experience this firsthand with ACF was a reminder of this truth in many ways.

The time is now to extend connectivity to marginalized areas.

With Cisco's sponsorship, BRCK.org will provide connectivity for the next cancer screening in the coastal area of Kenya later in the year, and will also explore other ways to extend reliable technology to the edges of society.

Indeed there has never been a better time to embrace technology at the frontiers of change. Visit Cisco.com to learn more on what there’s never been a better time to do. #NeverBetter

This post was sponsored by Cisco.