mobile health

African Strategies for Health (ASH) launches the mHealth database (screenshot, April 20, 2015).

It’s nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t own or have access to a mobile phone these days. According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2014 estimates, there are nearly seven billion mobile sub­scriptions worldwide, five billion of which are in low- and middle-income countries.

With mobile technologies accessible to 95.5 percent of the world population, a new platform for promoting and delivering health services has emerged. 

Mobile phones are increasingly being used by various cadres of health workers for tasks such as collecting health data; monitoring implementation of health interventions; or informing local communities about potential outbreaks of disease, as was done during the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

These new, innovative ways to make use of mobile technologies to improve health outcomes are known as mobile health or mHealth.  

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A community health worker uses a mobile phone for health information while caring for a sick child in Salima, Malawi.Photo credit: MSH staff

Natalie Campbell and Elizabeth McLean of MSH and colleagues co-authored a new journal article, "Taking knowledge for health the extra mile: participatory evaluation of a mobile phone intervention for community health workers in Malawi," in the latest issue of Global Health: Science and Practice.

This post originally appeared on the K4Health blog.

Cross-posted from the K4Health Blog.

The overhead lights dim and in the dark, the high-spirited rhythm and melodic line of a Malawian song rises and overtakes the quiet buzz of conversation. We are seated in a large auditorium at the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal and watching the first film focused on the K4Health Malawi project in a festival hosted by Population Services International (PSI).

The film festival is a rich visual and audio break in an intense day filled with technical presentations and serious conversations about what works in programs that promote reproductive health and family planning.

Cross-posted from the K4Health Blog.

As the mHealth Summit gets underway this week in the Washington D.C. area amid thousands of mHealth projects taking shape around the world, one particular mobile activity is saving lives by helping to ensure that the contents of medicines match their labels.

The Problem:

According to a  2010 World Health Organization Fact Sheet, it is difficult to estimate the percentage of counterfeit medicines in circulation—WHO cites estimates in industrialized countries at about 1%, and adds that “many African countries, and in parts of Asia, Latin America, and countries in transition, a much higher percentage” of the medicines on sale may be falsely labeled or counterfeit.

This blog post originally appeared on K4Health's blog.

The most important item in Amon Chimphepo’s medical kit is a small cell phone. This single piece of technology has proved to be a lifeline for people living in one of the most remote regions of Malawi. Its power to reach and initiate help immediately from the closest hospital is saving lives and improving health outcomes. In fact, I met a woman, alive today, because Mr. Chimphepo and his cell phone were there to make an emergency call to the district hospital and get an ambulance.

There have been a collection of high-profile and well attended mobile health (mHealth) “summits” held around the world in the past few years, including last month’s second annual mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. (headlined by Bill Gates and Ted Turner), but the really interesting conversations are happening on the African continent. While large providers in the “developed world” are talking about the need for business plans and analysis, the debate in Kenya and Nigeria and Ghana is on how country-based leadership can scale up proven programs, develop sustainability, and provide practical and integrated models for cooperation between the government, mobile service providers, the medical community and the private sector.

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