Pitara Kids Network

Old PCs Save Precious Lives

Where: Chicago, USA

July 1, 2000: Computers and Internet connections are not for the rich alone. Even the poor should be able to use it, says Zina Munoz. Zina works as a nurse in Chicago.

But Zina is not merely a nurse. She is also one of the people behind an Internet revolution in half a dozen countries across the world.

The idea came to her during a medical conference in Dallas four years ago. Americans keep throwing away old models of computers for newer and faster computers even though the old ones are working fine. Why not send them to hospitals in the developing countries and link them to the Internet, she asked. Hospitals need access, not speed, said the nurse. A report on this was carried in ‘The Indian Express’ recently.

Her idea appealed to Dr Kim Solez, a well known nephrologist (specialist in ailments of the kidney) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and in international circles. “Good idea,” he said, “Why not write a proposal?”

Old PCs Save Precious Lives [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
That was the beginning. And, both Munoz and Solez are still going great guns.

They started in a modest way. Their first stop was Kathmandu, Nepal where they dropped off some second-hand computers donated by Toshiba company. Two-and-a-half weeks later, the Nepali doctors and nurses knew how to find out the various websites on nephrology. They were also able to consult specialists in other countries for difficult cases.

Then they went all over the globe — to Cuba and Argentina in South America and Nigeria in Africa. Now it is the turn of Kosovo, in Europe. Kosovo, which has seen a bitter conflict in the last two years, is trying to rebuild. Naturally, Munoz and Solez are there with their computers to help the hospitals.

Munoz is happy that her idea has clicked. The interesting thing about her work is that it based on the idea that you do not need a lot of money for everything. If you have a will there will always be a way.