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August 21, 2009

Pneumonia Surveillance Program Named Project of the Year

The groundbreaking pneumonia tracking program, Interactive Alerts for Childhood Pneumonia was named the Most Innovative Near Field Communication (NFC) Research Project of the Year 2009 by the NFC Forum, a nonprofit association that advances the use of near field communication technology. Led by Neal Halsey, MD, principal investigator and a professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health, along with researchers from Interactive Research & Development (IRD) and the Indus Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, the program is a real-time patient tracking and referral system designed for use in low-resource settings. The Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH) funded the surveillance study in Karachi.

The interactive alert system uses radio frequency ID (RFID)-capable cellular phones for childhood pneumonia surveillance. At the time of the six-week vaccination visit, children are given a bracelet that holds an RFID tag. Parents are encouraged to take sick children to one of 40 participating general practitioner clinics or hospitals in the surveillance program. During each encounter, the doctor uses the cell phone to scan the child’s ID tag, collecting pertinent immunization, clinical and laboratory data that can be viewed in real-time over a secure website.

“Pneumonia is a leading cause of childhood death in countries with high under-five mortality rates and invasive pneumococcal disease, and is the number one bacterial, vaccine-preventable cause of death in children under five years of age,” said Hamidah Hussain, MD, MSc, project director and an associate in the School’s Department of International Health. “Our objective is to collect reliable data quickly which will provide policymakers in Pakistan and in the region the information required for introducing appropriate and new vaccines against pneumonia for children.”

Aamir Khan, MD, PhD, site principal investigator at IRD and an associate with the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, along with colleagues, showcased the program at the Global NFC Business and Technical Developers Summit in Monaco. The NFC Forum Global competition is designed to promote the development and deployment of innovative near field communication services. The competition is divided into two tracks, commercial and research with, first, second and third prizes being awarded. Participants came from 21 countries and winners were chosen by a panel of senior professionals and recognized experts from academia and sponsoring companies.

For more information about Interactive Alerts for Childhood Pneumonia, please visit:

Media contact for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or