A consortium of international groups announced today a call for collaboration to accelerate the use of modern information and communications technologies (ICTs), especially wireless, to improve maternal and newborn health in the developing world. They called for financial and organizational support to leverage the growing use of wireless technology to expand the reach of proven maternal and newborn health interventions.
Dr. Tore Godal, Special Advisor on Global Health to the Prime Minister of Norway, opened the consortium’s first working meeting in London, saying: “Technological innovation is critical to meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals. This mHealth initiative can help deliver more health for the money in delivering safer pregnancies and newborns around the world.” Godal is Co-Chairman of the Innovation Working Group of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Joint Action Plan for Maternal Health announced in April.
“More must be done to reduce global maternal and child mortality, and information technology, while not a panacea, will play a critical role in educating women and providers about how to deliver healthier pregnancies and healthier babies,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), hosted by the World Health Organization. PMNCH is facilitating the development of the Joint Action Plan, which will focus in part on innovation. The initial supporters include the mHealth Alliance, PMNCH, Family Care International, the GSM Association, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Bloomberg School of Public Health, PATH, and the White Ribbon Alliance.
The joint statement calls for collaboration in a Maternal and Newborn mHealth Initiative with five primary action areas:
- Identify how technology can help enable known interventions that address maternal & newborn health needs
- Design and build the first models of information and communications technologies (ICT) systems to do this, and the content and policies to go with them
- Create new metrics for evaluating programs, using the enormous amount of data ICT-supported programs will produce
- Test these integrated, end-to-end, scalable solutions in a variety of countries to learn what works best
- Share activities in all four of the above, and lessons learned and best practices, with the global maternal health communities through a variety of communications channels
“We are proud to be joining with these partners,” said David Aylward, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance, an umbrella group launched last year by the Rockefeller, UN and Vodafone Foundations. “Wireless networks go almost everywhere today. So should life saving information and services for mothers and newborn babies.”
Note to the Editors: Global public health sources estimate that between 342,000 to 550,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth each year, and 3.7 million children die each year before they are 30 days old.
About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance seeks to improve health outcomes in underserved communities through sustainable mobile health (mHealth) solutions. Our mission is to leverage the growing global reach of wireless networks to improve health and wellbeing in low and middle income countries.
The mHealth Alliance works with partners to advance thought leadership and innovation through convening stakeholders to address critical issues such as reducing maternal mortality; knowledge-sharing between the global health and information technology communities through events and HUB: Health UnBound, an online community, and; the development and implementation of standards-based, interoperable and scalable mHealth solutions.
Founding partners include the Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation, PEPFAR, and the GSM Association. More information is available at www.mhealthalliance.org.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health is an international alliance of some 280 governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, health care professionals, academics, and multilateral agencies. Its mission is to support the global health community to work successfully towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5 by advocating for national, regional and global political commitments, and by raising funds to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.