Welcome! This blog is devoted to a pilot study carried out by two MSc. engineering students from Uppsala University in Sweden. The purpose of the study is to see if it is possible to implement the mobile health service provided by the Swedish company iDoc24 in Kenya. We will be in Kenya testing the service for 10 weeks and will post updates and pictures as we go. Feel free to tag along on our journey!
  • Rift Valley
  • tripple layered pizza
  • Kisapuk
  • kisumu
  • Amref building
  • Brookview
  • Womens hospital
  • Back in Kenya
  • Tanzania


Among lions and gorges

Rift Valley

So here we are, we are done with our study here in Africa and believe that we have managed to get some good material for our thesis as well as having helped iDoc24 get a foot in the door, so to speak. Before we return to Sweden, we are going to relax a little bit. Chris’ girlfriend Ellinor came down on Friday and since then we have gone on two safaris. First to Nairobi national park were we managed to spot most of the big ones.

The highlight was when we managed to spot a male lion about 10m from the car, while Toto-Africa was on the radio, what a moment! Then yesterday we went to lake Naivasha and Hells gate national parks, located about 1,5 hours north of Nairobi, which meant that we went through Rift Valley (top pic) and got to see the wonder that it is. Here we went on a boat safari as well as hiked through the gorges of Hells gate, amazing!
Currently, we have said farewell to our apartment and are on a beach in Zanzibar for some nice relaxation.


The weather forecast looks bleak but the sun is currently shining and we have high hopes that rain will come in short bursts only.

Location: Bellevue beach restaurant, tours and rentals and bar (with wifi).
Playing: coco de rasta – artist unknown

Last week

tripple layered pizza


Here we are, our last week in Kenya. Well, that’s not entirely true, it’s our last working week. We’re planning to do a wee bit of safari and a quick trip to Zanzibar to relax a little bit before we return to a probably cold and hectic Sweden to finish our thesis, take a last class and, oh yes, get a job!


So for our last week we’re focused on organizational and economical aspects, and meeting with some of the people from the organizations we’ve worked with and discuss what the future should look like. So far we’ve got very good responses and there seems to be many possibilities to launch the service and many that want to be involved, which is nice. The pilots have gone so so as far as the quality of the service, mainly due to bugs in our demo app, which has a lot to do with our cheap phone. They have served their purpose though and we’ve learned what we wanted from them. However, with a few tweaks and integration of local methods of payment, such as mPesa, it should be good to go. We’ve also been in contact with the guys behind the soon-to-launch service MedAfrica, a mobile platform for health services. If you are in tune with the buzz, those are the guys that won Pivot 25, a bunch of start up money, and a trip to sunny California to pitch their ideas. This is definitely something interesting and a possible partner for iDoc. We’ve a couple of meetings and evaluating interviews left but then we’re done here and are going home. Time passes quick when you have fun as they say.


And if you are wondering about the picture, yes, it is in fact a tripple layered pizza with bbq sauce; Kenya is amazing!

Nairobi hospital vs. Maasai village

Hi all,

A lot of things has happen since last time. First of all, Chris’ dad Paul came to visit for the week. Due to this, we have done a few touristy stuff, such as visit the Nairobi museum, go to the Maasai market in Nairobi, get our phone stolen and Chris and Paul went on a quick safari in Tsavo. However, we’ve had a lot of progress with the study as well; the pilot with the Nairobi Women’s Hospital took off on Wednesday and when we discovered that the doctor that helped us in the study had a suitable phone, we installed the app on her phone so that the pilot could continue for the remainder of our time here, without us needing to be present. What we’re looking at here is how the service works in a hospital setting with high medical expertise.

Chris teaching math

Yesterday we went to AfriAfya’s resource center (RC) in the Maasai village Kisapuk just north of the Tanzanian border. With our trusted driver Riwel and AfriAfya’s ICT and field officer Tonny with us, we were in good hands. The RC was located in a primary school and our goal was to see how the service might work in a setting where there’s no medical personnel. We were very well received and between interviewing the responsible ICT guys at the center and being guided around the premises, Chris had time to teach some math to the kids and I taught them some juggling. The idea of a service such as iDoc24 was very well received and can definitely have a future here. All the technical requirements exists already, both when it comes to internet connection as well as the necessary hardware. The HCI requirements are also there, a desire for new technology as well as a well functioning maintenance and training system. The biggest issue is the monetary one and it seems as if some form of aid program is needed in the marginalized communities.


Check out the new pictures in the pictures section. See you soon again.

Kisumu part 2.

After having talked with the community health workers at Nyakach on Wednesday (see pic above), we returned the following day to try out the service. A bunch of willing test subjects had turned up to get their various skin ailments looked at and we started right away. However, due to study formalities, the need for a translator, our follow up questions, mobile phone malfunctions, and bad reception, it took much longer than we thought to complete each case. Even so, with great patience from everyone  and a lot of help from our translator Dickson, we managed to send in all the cases before it was time to head back to the train and Nairobi. Interestingly enough, even though we were quite far out in the countryside, we had fairly good mobile reception coverage. When the regular 3G failed, the HSDPA kicked in and uploading a case took about a minute, including two pictures per case. Unfortunately, since the cases took longer than we thought, we didn’t have time to accompany the community health workers on their rounds before we had to return to Nairobi.
And speaking of returning to Nairobi, we mentioned in the previous post that we took the train and we just want to give the train the praise that it deserves. For around $30, you get a private compartment with sleeping berths and sink as well as a nice dinner and breakfast. Even though it takes 15h, it is well worth it since you travel over the evening and night (and thus don’t have to pay for accommodation) and arrive (fairly) well rested the following day. Train -> do it!
In other news, just after arriving to Nairobi we had a meeting with the Women’s hospital of Nairobi (which interestingly enough isn’t just for women) and agreed to do a pilot with the service during the two upcoming weeks so that’s our next goal.
Upon request we’ve also updated the pictures section so that it’s a bit more user friendly and up to date. It now includes the new pictures from the Kisumu trip as well.

The iron women (and 2 men) of the North Nyakach location

20110921-081724.jpg Finally we’ve got the ethics application approved! We immediately booked tickets to Kisumu and after only 15h on the train we arrived. Greeting us was Afriafya’s ICT field officer Tonny. After some delicious local lake Victoria Tilapia we quickly drove to one of their locations an hour outside of Kisumu to partake in a lesson of basic Internetting with the local community learning committee made up of teachers and people from local organizations. They have adapted a teaching method that they call the multiplier effect where this core group of people are to teach 5 persons each about the basics of computing and in turn they will teach 5 and so on.

Today, we went to another site, one of the first establishments in the region and had a few sessions with the community health workers there. These are a big group of women (and 2 men) who voluntarily goes around to all the homes in the nearby community each month to collect health data. This way, they can trace disease outbreaks and keep track of pregnant women etc. After our sessions we’ve got a somewhat different view of the situation in rural Kenya and understood the importance of local community engagements. Tomorrow we plan to start sending in some cases and hopefully follow some community health workers around for their rounds to get a better understanding of their work. All in all though, it seems as if this would be an ideal place to launch this service as far as needs and desire to adopt new technology goes.

Going to Kisumu

Hi all,

OK, so we got our ethics application back, with the message that we needed to supply further information, which has taken some time to procure. Hopefully by Monday, we’ll get the final verdict. In the meantime though, we have among other things arranged for a trip to Kisumu, by lake Victoria next week with AfriAfya where we will hopefully get to spend some time with the local community health workers as they do their rounds to collect health information in the local community. An issue for our study is that people with dermatological conditions do not prioritize them until they reach a critical state. It will be very interesting to see what role a service such as iDoc24 could play in such a setting.

Amref building

AfriAfya is an organization that, like several organizations, are based in the AMREF building here in Nairobi. They focus on ICT and have so called resource centers scattered all over the country, often at a school or a clinic in rural areas without electricity. Most of them therefore run on solar panels.  In these resource centers, they provide the local community with one or several Internet connected computers as well as other ICT gadgets. Cool stuff and we’re very exited to see it.

Hakuna Matata.



Since we have been waiting for the KEMRI ethical application results, activity has been fairly low. We have now moved to Brookview Apartments, which is just up the street from 3 Dee Apartments but costs less and has a better internet connection. This means we have been able to have decent Skype ™ conversations with friends and family, which is nice.


Yesterday was Sunday, which for many Kenyans means some sort of church. Once every month the church has a birthday celebration for everyone who has had a birthday the past month. Yesterday was the designated day for everyone who had theirs in August and, as luck would have it, one of our neighbours had his birthday in August so we were invited along. We expected about half an hour or so of sermon and some cake but in classical Kenyan fashion it all started about an hour late and kept going for another four hours. Almost constant dancing and the declaration that it was the first time they had 3 mzungus (white people) come celebrate birthdays with them. This prompted a compulsory show on center stage where the three mzungus (Guy who invited us + us) got on stage and were shown how to do the traditional Kikoyo dance in front of the 300 or so strong congregation. The whole event was a lot of fun and was essentially a bunch of stand up comedy and dancing with a dash of christianity, also they provided dinner (#winning)!

We’ve uploaded some pictures to the pictures section from both Brookview and our Sunday church experience. Unfortunately, since didn’t really plan to go to the church when we left home, we didn’t bring a decent camera so the pictures are so so.

We will end this blog post in the same way that the birthday host (pastor?) ended the event on Sunday (we’re serious these are the exact words he said).

God Bless the DJ.

And now we play the waiting game…

Hello all,

We’ve now handed in our ethical approval application to the authorities (KEMRI) and are waiting for it to get approved, which will take yet another week. During this time we’ve prepared questions, contacted and met with various organizations, such as AMREF, Afriafya and The Women’s Hospital of Nairobi, which is just across the street. They all seem very interested in the service and we hope to be able to perform the study as planned and try out the service in health care facilities with actual patients. We’ve also met with a venture capitalist to discuss the possibilities for a possible future launch in Kenya.


Womens hospitalWe are not feeling the drought much as it is raining almost constantly which causes power failures and romantic iPhone lit dinners (both cooking and eating).

If you have any questions about Kenya and or our study, don’t hesitate to ask us and we will answer them publicly or via e-mail. Especially students from Swedish universities can ask us about MFS studies and developing countries if they want.

Over and out.


Back from Tanzania (with pictures)

Back in Kenya


The trip was very eventful. Most importantly we visited with the dermatologists at the RDTC (Regional Dermatological Training Center) at KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center). The discussion was very fruitful and we were surprised to find how much experience they have had with teledermatology already. Without spoiling the ending, there are a lot of problems facing health care in Eastern Africa and, dermatology is generally given a fairly low priority. Especially in rural villages where the local nurse/doctor/specialist/random-person-in-a-white-coat is seen as an all-knowing “if the doctor can’t fix it no one else can” type person.

On Saturday we took a day off and headed to Marangu village on the lush south side of a Kilimanjaro. There our guide, Praise (picture), took us around and explained how life there had been and is. We eventually tried local brews called Banana Beer and Banana Wine. To the best of our knowledge there is no difference between the two except for the alcoholic content (beer = 5%, wine = 10%). The local pub (picture), served the millet filled banana beer out of a large blue tub in traditional cups.

Take a look in the pictures section, since there are now a lot of new pictures. We have also migrated from Flickr to Picasa in the pictures section since this works better with our low bandwidth.

Road Trip to Tanzania


It has been a couple of days since our last update due to bad internet connection. Anyways, on wednesday (24:th)  at 0700 EAT (East African Time) we jumped on the bus for Tanzania. We were going there to speak with doctors at the RDTC (Regional Dermatological Training Center) in Moshi, just south of the Kenyan border at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, to see if they were interested in forming some sort of cooperation with our pilot study. We have been in contact with the principal there, Dr. John Masenga, and we had high hopes to have a fruitful cooperation. The RDTC is a center for dermatological knowledge here in East Africa. The meeting went well and it has forced us to reconsider very many things about our research. In total, there are 4 dermatologists at the RDTC and in total about 10 dermatologists in Tanzania. That is 1 dermatologist per four million (that’s six zero’s mind!) people. Absolutely staggering numbers! Dr. Masenga made it clear to us that the shortage of manpower in health care in Africa is substantial. This in turn, requires that any new service has a high efficiency since otherwise, the time put into it might be better used somewhere else. While at the hospital, we met a Finnish surgeon over lunch and decided to invite him with us for a day trip to Kilimanjaro on Saturday.




In unrelated news, we went to a “fireside chat” with a truckload of important people from Nokia this past Tuesday (23rd) at the *iHub_. It was very interesting, but probably nothing we will have much use of for our pilot. Cool though that  Nokia’s executives takes time to come down here and answer questions from the local developers and users. They made clear though that Africa definitely is a huge market for Nokia.

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