Experts Assemble to Tackle Global Health Challenges

Conference Engages Private Sector And Public Health Leaders In Developing Vision For Improved Healthcare In The Developing World

Bellagio, Italy

July 28, 2008


Megan Rabbitt

he United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Group Foundation’s Technology Partnership (Technology Partnership) announced today the start of a conference session designed to harness the potential of mobile health (mHealth) to unlock access to health data and improve healthcare in the developing world. Co-facilitated by the Technology Partnership and the Telemedicine Society of India, the session is part of the Rockefeller Foundation conference “Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partners, Local Solutions.”

The “mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine” session is gathering 25 private sector and public health leaders to explore the challenges, opportunities and way forward in building mHealth systems that can improve the access, efficiency and quality of health services in the developing world. The overarching goal of the Rockefeller Foundation conference is to develop a roadmap and global partnerships that support the use of emerging digital technologies to improve public health.

“As global trends such as climate change, the food crisis, and human migration place increasing strains on developing country health systems, there is an ever larger need for technological innovation to help strengthen international public health efforts,” said Claire Thwaites, Technology Partnership Head, UN Foundation and Vodafone Group Foundation. “Developments in the field of mHealth in particular are creating a remarkable opportunity to bring about a sea change in healthcare delivery, even in the most resource-poor environments,” she added.

mHealth session participants include representatives of Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and Qualcomm, as well as the Earth Institute, Gates Foundation, MIT, and the UN World Health Organization. Over the week, participants will examine the landscape of mHealth and mobile telemedicine, assess priority issues, and identify potential next steps for a multi-sector partnership dedicated to advancing mHealth programs in the Global South.

“Mobile phone use is exploding across the developing world, offering the opportunity to leapfrog other applications and services on both the health and technology fronts,” said Mitul Shah, Senior Director of Technology at the United Nations Foundation. “This collaborative effort with the Rockefeller Foundation and the other private sector and public health leaders assembled here this week opens the door for the kind of broader, public-private partnership that could bring us to a tipping point in addressing some of the most intractable public health challenges,” he said.

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Note to the editor: For more information on the “mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine” session, visit the Rockefeller Foundation’s eHealth Connection website at

About the UN Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership
The UN Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership strives to be the leading public-private alliance using strategic technology programmes to strengthen the UN’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. Created in October 2005, with a £10 million commitment from The Vodafone Group Foundation matched by £5 million from the UN Foundation, the Partnership has three core commitments: (1) to develop rapid response telecoms teams to aid disaster relief; (2) to develop health data systems that improve access to health data thereby helping to combat disease; and (3) to promote research and innovative initiatives using technology as an agent and tool for international development. Further information can be found at:

Press contacts:

In Bellagio
Katherine Miller
United Nations Foundation
M: (+1) 202.489.2205

In London
Helen Brockett
The Vodafone Group Foundation
T: +44 (0) 7500 032886