mHealth Alliance Plans for 2014 Move to South Africa

Transition To Global South Will Support A Strategic Focus On Country-Level Policy And Capacity Building Of Mobile Health In The Countdown To Achieving The Millennium Development Goals

Washington, D.C. and Johannesburg

December 6, 2013


Megan Rabbitt

The mHealth Alliance today outlined plans to transition its base of operations in 2014 from the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC to South Africa. This move reflects the Alliance’s natural evolution to engage in projects and initiatives that focus on specific countries or regions, while still maintaining the powerful global voice it has cultivated through its relationship with the UN Foundation.

Since the mHealth Alliance’s creation five years ago, the mHealth community has moved from the question of “whether” mHealth ought to be pursued to the question of “how” to most effectively implement it to transform the health and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable populations. In response to this shift, the Alliance – in consultation with the UN Foundation, its Partnership Board and other key partners – has determined that relocating to the Global South will allow it capitalize on the momentum to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and maximize its impact on bringing mHealth to scale in developing countries.

“In the past five years, the mHealth Alliance has been proud to play an important role in advancing the field of mobile health through thought leadership and by convening a range of stakeholders,” said Patricia Mechael, mHealth Alliance Executive Director. “The Alliance is now responding to the changing needs of the field and making a strategic decision to relocate to the part of the world where we are doing our most critical work. This transition allows us to continue our global advocacy work, while giving us the opportunity to bring our convening power and technical expertise to diverse and innovative mHealth communities on the country and regional level.”

The mHealth Alliance’s membership includes nearly 300 organizations from 59 countries, and it has delivered 26 catalytic grants, as well as technical support, to organizations in 14 countries that aim to reach 31 million people with mobile health information and services. The Alliance powers Health Unbound, an interactive network and knowledge sharing center that offers 8,500+ members access to more than 20,000 resources. The Alliance has produced more than 20 publications on wide-ranging mHealth topics, and it has spearheaded a number of projects, partnerships and initiatives designed to strengthen the enabling environment for mHealth in low- and middle-income countries.

“The UN Foundation has been proud to provide a home for the Alliance and act as its ‘incubator’ for the past five years. This transition represents a unique opportunity to move an initiative beyond incubation and to a point where it can have an even greater impact on achieving the MDGs,” said Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation President and CEO. “We look forward to staying engaged in the important work of mobile health and to supporting the Alliance’s efforts to mainstream mobile technology into health systems. We will also continue to engage in mHealth work through the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).”

In the coming months, the mHealth Alliance will finalize a full transition plan for 2014, including a proposal to co-locate with the Johannesburg-based Praekelt Foundation, a long-standing leader in mobile for social good. The Alliance will also continue to engage key partners and mHealth stakeholders to inform the transition process and help shape the scope of its work in Africa.


Chelsea Hedquist

Senior Communications Officer, mHealth Alliance

Office: 202.778.1632

Mobile: 202.290.8440


About the mHealth Alliance

The mHealth Alliance leverages the game-changing potential of mobile technology in pursuit of transformed health outcomes for billions of the world’s most vulnerable people. To this end, the mHealth Alliance brings together experts from every sector — health, government, technology, development — to spark new connections and drive collective action for mainstreaming mHealth. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, the mHealth Alliance’s founding partners include Norad, Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, HP and the GSM Association. The Alliance also powers Health Unbound (HUB), a global online interactive network and knowledge resource center, and serves as a strategic partner to the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) and mPowering Frontline Health Workers. For more information, please visit

About the United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit