Eighty-three per cent of governments surveyed report at least one use of mobile phones to support health activities in their country, yet the majority of mHealth activities are limited in size and scope, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report launched today with support from the mHealth Alliance, the United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation at the GSMA and mHealth Alliance Mobile Health Summit.
Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation, a founding member and host of the mHealth Alliance, welcomed the report saying, “Wireless technologies have enormous potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health programs as they grow beyond the pilot programs common in most of the world. This report provides the data that can help accelerate the strategic use and evaluation of mobile technologies as mHealth is taken to scale to help meet health needs.”
The study, mHealth: New Horizons for Health through Mobile Technologies, is the most comprehensive global study of mHealth activity to date. Written by WHO’s Global Observatory for eHealth, the report analyzes data from 112 countries by 14 mHealth activity types, as well as WHO region and World Bank income group. The report also documents the maturity of mHealth activities, and barriers to mHealth adoption and scale.
Although the report shows a groundswell of mHealth activity globally, the majority of these projects are still in pilot phase. Two-thirds of countries surveyed reported between one and three mHealth activities, yet only 12% of reported efforts to evaluate their mHealth activities.
The four most frequently reported mHealth initiatives were health call centres (59%), emergency toll-free telephone services (55%), managing emergencies and disasters (54%), and mobile telemedicine (49%). mHealth initiatives varied by region and income group, with health survey initiatives, for example, being among the most commonly reported mHealth activities in low income countries, yet among the least commonly reported mHealth activities globally.
The 14 mHealth activity types include: appointment reminders, community mobilization and health promotion, decision support systems, emergency toll-free telephone services, health call centers/health care telephone helplines, health surveillance, health surveys, information initiatives, mobile telemedicine, patient monitoring, patient records, public health emergencies, raising awareness, and treatment compliance.
The complete report is available on the WHO website www.who.int/goe/publications.
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About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance (mHA) mobilizes innovation to deliver quality health at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices. Working with diverse partners, the mHA advances mHealth through research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. The mHA sponsors innovation challenges and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (Health UnBound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Founding partners include the Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation, PEPFAR, the GSM Association, and HP. More information is available at: www.mHealthAlliance.org.
About the UN Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. These campaigns focus on reducing child mortality, empowering women and girls, creating a new energy future, securing peace and human rights, and promoting technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org