- Dr. Karina Walters, Enrolled Member Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Professor and William P. and Ruth Gerberding Endowed Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington
In an effort to not only report live from AIDS2012: XIX International AIDS Conference, but also act as part of the conversation I thought that my second blog post in this conference series should apply some of my learnings during my time here. Through multiple sessions yesterday I found myself in a familiar space between my two (most consistent) passions: technology and indigenous issues.
Having come from previously working at a Native American-focused association, I’m very familiar with the struggles this particular group of people has faced with respect to HIV/AIDS. And I have to admit that although indigenous populations have certainly progressed, they are most certainly still marginalized when it comes to access to health care, technology and proper education to overcome diseases such as this.
Yesterday, I attended the first ever plenary session to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic within indigenous populations at the International AIDS conference. Panelists during the session represented a large range of global indigenous peoples including Canadian Aboriginals, American Indian/Alaska Native, Burmese/Laotian indigenous peoples, New Zealand Maori and indigenous people of Chile.
The opening speaker, Canada’s Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq, set a common tone for the remaining panelists, saying that indigenous peoples need to work together within the global indigenous communities to share best practices and culturally appropriate solutions to HIV/AIDS. Through groups like the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS, they are heading in the right direction, but what is the next step?
My proposed solution? Mobile technology.
After attending a session with University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for HIV, Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services on #mHealth and mobile technologies, I got to thinking. What about utilizing mobile technology to help fight HIV/AIDS on reservations and reserves globally?
Panelists during the CHIPTS session spoke time and time again about their case studies in highly marginalized populations not only in the U.S., but abroad as well. Through mobile phone microscope diagnostics, SMS text messaging campaigns, simple mobile phone survey applications and cloud systems management with substantial analytical data used by community health workers, mobile health could be the answer. This technology is not only relevant for HIV/AIDS but also other infectious diseases indigenous people are battling like tuberculosis, Hepatitis and Malaria.
My broad question to the world is, how do we “mobilize” and get this technology in the hands of those who need it the most? Comment below, we’d love to know!