Partners welcome landmark mHealth report from WHO
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (June 7, 2011) – 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