Communities of practice
‘Mobile health’ campaign aims to promote use of phones to improve health worldwide
27 Feb 2009
Source: Rockefeller Foundation (see original article)
A new initiative, the mHealth Alliance aims to act as a ‘global facilitation body’ to unite existing projects to improve healthcare using mobile (‘cell’) phone technology. The UN, Vodafone, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s are the three organizations behind the alliance.
The launch of the initiative follows the publication of a study produced by the UN/Vodafone Foundation Partnership which listed more than 50 mHealth programmes already operating around the world, that demonstrate the benefits that mobile technology can bring to health. The report also outlined the benefits to the mobile phone industry of investing in such projects at a time of economic decline.
A Vodafone Foundation Trustee, Terry Kramer said: “I believe it is critical for us to harness the benefits that mobile technology can bring to global healthcare, in both sociological and economic terms.”
He continued: “When you consider that there are 2.2 billion mobile phones in the developing world, 305 million computers but only 11 million hospital beds you can instantly see how mobiles can create effective solutions to address health care challenges. Mobile technology is providing new hope in the provision and promotion of quality healthcare in a number of ways, such as accelerating the collection and storage of patient data, training rural professionals and personalizing the way patients receive medical treatment.”
The formation of the Alliance resulted from a July 2008 Rockefeller Foundation-hosted conference on the future of mHealth, in which participants identified the need to increase collaboration in cross-sectoral and pan-regional partnerships to improve healthcare delivery in the developing world. Participants included representatives of Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and Qualcomm, as well as the Earth Institute, MIT and the UN World Health Organization.
“Mobile technology can enable significant progress toward reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals relating to health. This mHealth Alliance will provide a platform to bring the technology and health sectors together to maximize the impact mobile technology can have in improving health across the developing world”, said Daniel Carucci, Vice President for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation, which operates a £15 million partnership with The Vodafone Foundation using mobile technology to advance UN humanitarian work.
The mHealth Alliance will encourage the development of scalable, sustainable and open-standard health solutions that can be made widely available through creating partnerships that strengthen the potential of mobile technology. It will also support project implementation and commissioning rigorous research on the opportunity for mHealth.
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation said, “The rapidly-growing field of mHealth is a case study of smart globalization – dynamic partnerships fostering innovative, sustainable solutions to make the broadest possible progress in developing communities. The mHealth Alliance is particularly important as it sits at the apex of mobility and global health advancements. This is a multi-stakeholder opportunity that can bring benefits to patients, healthcare systems and mobile operators alike.”
A fact sheet giving further details on the mHealth Alliance is available here.
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