Frontline health workers, including nurses, midwives and community health workers, are the first and often the only link to health care for millions of people living in the developing world. These invaluable figures in communities throughout the world are critical in settings where overall primary health care systems are weak or inaccessible.
Frontline health workers are the backbone of health systems in these resource-constrained environments, yet they face numerous challenges: weak performance incentives, difficulty reaching remote populations, a lack of supportive supervision, and insufficient real-time access to patient data and reference information.
Mobile health, or mHealth, can provide frontline health workers with immediate access to timely and relevant health information and tools they need to improve and save the lives of millions of children. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege to actively engage firsthand in programs throughout Africa that leverage mobile technologies to transform how frontline health workers register and track newborns and children under five to improve early diagnosis, treatment and referral for conditions such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia.
Today the mHealth Alliance, together with ten other partners, announced mPowering Frontline Health Workers, a new public-private partnership to empower frontline health workers by expanding the use of appropriate, cost-effective and sustainable and scalable mobile technologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The mHealth Alliance will serve as the partnership secretariat to coordinate and amplify the resources and expertise of ten founding members, including USAID, UNICEF, Frontline Health Workers Coalition, Qualcomm, Vodafone, Intel, MDG Health Alliance, GlaxoSmithKline, Praekelt Foundation and Absolute Return for Kids.
According to a report from the Earth Institute, the impact of community-based health care has been clearly demonstrated time and again, particularly in the domain of child and neonatal health in multiple settings over the past decade. To ensure frontline health workers continue to make an effective contribution, they must be appropriately trained, provided with continued training/education and adequately and continuously supported. Mobile technology can help us do this!
The mPowering Frontline Health Workers partnership represents a wealth of expertise and resources that these partners have committed over the next three years. We are excited to together execute on the vision, evaluate the outcomes, and share the lessons learned with the global development community. Together we will scale up effective mobile technologies, empower frontline health workers and ultimately improve and save the lives of millions of children around the world.
Learn more about mPowering Frontline Health Workers at http://www.mhealthalliance.org/our-work/partnerships/mpowering-community-health.