The report “mHealth for Development” authored by Vital Wave Consulting through the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership, details a number of worldwide mHealth programs. The programs are taking place in 26 developing countries that are currently operating, slated for implementation, or will take place in the future.
The United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation Technology partnership is a public-private alliance to strengthen worldwide technology efforts. Their goal is to examine the use of mobile phones used in healthcare and discuss how mobile health applications can and will impact healthcare.
The report’s 51 case studies show the potential of how mobile health can be used to provide health services and information. Some of the case studies in the report include:
• Project Masiluleke and Text to Change are using SMS message campaigns to provide HIV/AIDS education in South Africa and Uganda. Project Masiluleke sends one million text messages per day throughout South Africa. Messages are written in local languages and direct recipients to the National AIDS Helpline
• Health workers are using PDAs provided by the Ugandan Health Information Network to collect health data in the field resulting in cost savings of 25 percent in the first six months
• TB patients in Thailand were given mobile phones so that healthcare workers could call them on a daily basis to remind them to take their medications. Medicine compliance rates were able to reach 90 percent
• In the Primary Healthcare Nursing Promotion Program, the National School for Nurses in Guatemala used a combination of mobile phones and landline phones to train nurses in this rainforest community
• Incidents of Japanese Encephalitis were tracked real-time in Andhra Pradesh, India, via a combination of mobile phones and web-based technologies to enable the government to provide vaccinations based on the evidence of clusters of outbreaks
• Researchers from the University of Melbourne are creating diagnostic and analytical tools to provide mobile phones to health workers in Mozambique. These tools include a built-in calculator for determining drug dosage and reference materials stored in the phone’s memory
The report details the strategic approach that is needed to improve health outcomes on a massive scale. The first step is to design the program with operators, NGOs, policymakers, and funders in mind. In addition, mobile operators have to be pro active and initiate public-private partnerships, team up with governments and NGOs to address pressing national health issues, and at the same time, collaborate with software providers to develop healthcare solutions.
Next mobile operators need to combine mHealth with the delivery of other mServices such as mBanking and mCommerce. Economic advantages are realized by packaging services with mHealth solutions. Mobile operators need to develop strong relationships with handset manufacturers and cooperate to bring phones and devices to market to provide mHealth and other services needed in developing countries.
According to the report, the mHealth infrastructure can vary in developing countries and therefore operator services need to enhance their networks to increased mHealth activities but at the same time, it is equally important to use simple available technology.
In order to fund projects, grantees need to help themselves. Non-profit and international development funding sources are placing a growing emphasis on demonstrable impact. As a result, mHealth proposals and programs must be able to specify and measure program successes. This is even more critical given the early stage of the mHealth market and the absence of research available for program managers to use.
Go to www.unfoundation.org/global-issues/technology/mhealth-report.html to download the report. For general inquiries call (202) 887-9040.