Mobile devices aren’t just for chatting with friends or playing Bejeweled. In fact, cell phones have the potential to increase vaccination rates in the third world and improve the chances of patients taking life-saving medicines as and when directed, according to Bill Gates.

Gates, speaking at this weeks’ mHealth Summit in Washington, said cell phones could be used to register births in countries like India and Nigeria, making it easier for local health officials to ensure children receive respiratory, Malaria and diarrheal vaccines and immunizations. The devices can also be used to remind patients when to take medications for diseases like tuberculosis.

“If you could register every birth on the cell phone, get fingerprints, get a location, then you could take these systems where you go around and make sure the immunization happens, you could run them in a more effective way,” Gates said.

Cell phones could also aid in monitoring “supply chains for all the goods, making sure there are no counterfeits and there’s no stock-outs and people will know what’s available,” Gates said.

Gates, the founder of and former chief software architect at Microsoft, is now co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. You can watch part of his keynote address here.

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