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The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau of the Democratic Republic of Congo gives the sermon during opening worship at the Game Changers Summit at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau of the Democratic Republic of Congo gives the sermon during opening worship at the Game Changers Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 2014.

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau speaks during a panel discussion on the use of information and communication technologies for health during the Game Changers Summit at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, 2014. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau speaks during a panel discussion on the use of information and communication technologies for health during the Game Changers Summit at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, 2014.

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The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau: Technology saves lives

September 10, 2015

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, a United Methodist clergywoman from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a public health care worker, was an early adopter of ICT4D (Information & Communications Technology for Development). Musau will speak at the 2015 Game Changers Summit hosted by United Methodist Communications, Sept. 17-19, in Nashville, Tennessee. This year’s focus will be harnessing the power of information and communications technology for global good. The aim is to demonstrate how ICT can be used to improve all facets of life throughout the developing world. Join us for this exciting event.

A timely text message is life-saving.

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau said that during a February 2014 cholera outbreak, messages sent through Frontline SMS — a free text-messaging system that does not depend on Internet connection — stopped unnecessary deaths. She simply sent texts reminding people to boil their water before drinking and to wash their hands frequently.

“A woman told me that messages to the villagers to wash their hands before breast-feeding and before handling food worked to save lives,” Musau said. After the last outbreak, there were even drugs left in the pharmacy — unnecessary because of the prevention that had taken place.

Musau said technology that makes sense for the people who need it makes all the difference. “Before I help someone, I need to identify their need.”

She pointed out the harsh reality for many in Africa: There are only 10 doctors in the North Katanga Conference of Democratic Republic of Congo. That’s why she feels it’s “everybody’s job” — not just the job of nurses and doctors — to participate in the knowledge sharing that prevents illness, disease and death.

After the success of using ICT4D to combat the cholera outbreak, a maternal death led Musau to focus on using mobile technology to monitor the health of pregnant mothers.

“There was a woman who had a C-section and died, so we wanted to work with the community health workers to make sure women are getting the care they need.”

Partnering with United Methodist Communications, Medic Mobile, and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, Musau designed a project in Kamina connecting clinics and villagers via mobile messaging. The program there helps community health workers stay in touch with pregnant women until they deliver, sending text messages with reminders of appointments and other important pre-natal care information.

“One of the key things in user-centered design is that you go to the people who are wanting a solution for their problem and work with them,” says the Rev. Neelley Hicks, director of ICT4D at United Methodist Communications. “It was Betty who identified the problem, and we worked with her to help create the solution.”

Modern technology is vital for Africa, Musau said, adding that it “moves people from isolation to collaboration.”