Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Funding Tech Globally

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and USAID have formed a public private coalition in Bangladesh to support the implementation of “Mobiles for Health” (M4H), a country-led health information service. M4H provides both audio and text health messages to pregnant women and new mothers and is scheduled to be launched on a national scale in mid 2011.

USAID is providing technical assistance, technology development, and corporate sector engagement while M4H financing will be sustained through corporate sponsorships, co-branding opportunities, product advertising, user fees, and partner in-kind contributions.

Other global projects include two mobile device projects under development by Abt Associates to strengthen healthcare under USAID’s HS 20/20 project. Abt has introduced mobile devices to improve supportive supervision of health workers in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Currently, TB and HIV/AIDS clinic supervisors are using PDAs to monitor activities.

In another mHealth application under the USAID HS 20/20 project, Abt is assessing costs and quality of health services across six networks in Haiti based upon analysis of patient data. Using netbooks, the costing team is able to access, organize, and analyze substantial amounts of data directly from national EMRs stored in local servers. Netbooks require little or no training compared to PDAs to achieve a rapid start to collecting data.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a public-private partnership with Cepheid Inc., the University Of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, along with funding from NIH, have developed a fully integrated and automated instrument to detect the presence of TB and resistance to rifampicin in less than two hours. Rollout of the new instrument Xpert MTB/RIF Rapid Diagnostic Test for TB and Rifampicin resistance along with the release of a roadmap by WHO, has made the global community hopeful especially in rural areas.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), USAID, and CDC are going to work together to support the rapid scale-up and appropriate use of this new technology. Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC Director said, “Having a reliable test that can detect TB and MDR-TB in less than two hours is a great tool. This is especially important in caring for HIV-infected persons who are at greatest risk for the rapid progression of TB.”

To improve the health of Kenyans in the western region of the country, USAID has awarded a comprehensive health service delivery project to the “Program for Appropriate Technology in Health” (PATH). The project referred to as APHIAplus “is going to work to strengthen the region’s healthcare system by rehabilitating health facilities, provide training to staff, and support supply and communication networks.

PATH and partners will implement the APHIAplus project in Western and Nyanza Provinces from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2015 and work closely with the Government of Kenya. The amount for the five year award is $143 million and is one of several region-specific health projects that USAID/Kenya plans to award in the near future.

Malawi’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) uses quarterly supervision visits to monitor how facilities are diagnosing and treating malaria as well as collecting data and keeping tabs on the availability of malaria medicine. However, some health facilities lack internet connections for quickly gathering and consolidating the data.

In 2010, with funding from USAID President’s Malaria Initiative, the Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems Program and the NMCP DataDyne’s free survey software tool (EpiSurveyor) was piloted on mobile phones with data collected via mobile phone networks throughout the country.