Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mobile technology improving women's and children's health

The Innovation Working Group and the mHealth Alliance Announce Grantees to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health Using Mobile Technology

Programs Will Help Advance Goals of UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child Initiative

Washington, DC (December 6, 2011) – Today at the 2011 mHealth Summit, the Innovation Working Group, part of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child effort , and the mHealth Alliance announced the recipients of eight catalytic grants for mobile health (mHealth) programs. The grants, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), are designed to identify and foster innovative uses of mobile technology to advance maternal and newborn health, with a special focus on growing programs with sustainable financing models and early indications of impact.

The grants will help organizations working on mobile health projects in low-income countries to share knowledge, improve management, and improve evaluation design across projects, sectors, and countries. “Each of the eight recipient initiatives has demonstrated innovative mobile technology solutions to obstacles in health and healthcare practices,” said Patty Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance. “From providing maternal and newborn health information via mobile phones to building technology that supports clinical decision making, these initiatives all focus helping the world’s most vulnerable populations lead a healthier life.”

“Norad is proud to support the efforts of these grantees and their partners to scale up their vital work for women and children through the use of mobile technology,” said Frederik Kristensen, Project Manager for the Innovation Working Group on behalf of Norad, and member of the mHealth Alliance Partnership Board. “Through his Every Woman Every Child initiative, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the global community to accelerate collaboration and enhance innovation to improve the health of women and children at the bottom of the pyramid. Through these grants, we hope to do just that, and invite other funders to join us in expanding this program.”

The grants will be used to build resources and partnerships to support national scale-up processes and enable expanded reach to communities in need. Throughout the two-year grant period, the mHealth Alliance will provide opportunities for collaborative learning among the grantees. Grant recipients include:

Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): CHAI recognizes that some of the greatest challenges in fighting diseases of poverty are organizational and managerial, not scientific or medical. With grant support, CHAI will design and deploy a centralized computing infrastructure in a number of countries to expedite the sharing of, and follow-up on, laboratory test results and track program data online in real time to manage and monitor the program.

Dimagi, Inc: Demagi is committed to helping organizations deliver quality health care to urban and rural communities around the world. With grant support, Dimagi will accelerate, scale up, and amplify in ten countries a case management solution for community health care workers that helps manage enrollment, support, and tracking of all of the community health workers’ clients and activities through a mobile phone.

D-Tree International: D-tree International is committed to changing the way healthcare is delivered in developing countries. Grant support will help scale up a mobile phone-based decision support application that helps health workers in Zanzibar, Tanzania, identify and treat children with severe acute malnutrition.

Grameen Foundation: Grameen Foundation's mission is to enable the poor, especially the poorest, to create a world without poverty. With grant support, Grameen Foundation will build on its already successful MoTech project in Ghana to provide critical maternal and child health information to as many poor individuals as possible, using a fee-for-service model in urban areas to subsidize services to the poor in rural areas.

International Relief and Development (IRD)-Pakistan: IRD implements relief, stabilization, and development programs worldwide. With grant support, IRD-Pakistan will scale up an existing phone-based vaccine registry, Interactive Alerts, which utilizes radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag stickers on the infant’s government-issued immunization card. The registry utilizes SMS reminders and conditional cash transfers to improve immunization coverage through public-private programs.

Novartis Foundation: Novartis has established multiple health initiatives, including SMS for Life, a project aimed at creating visibility into medicine stock levels at remote health facilities and thus supporting the elimination of medicine stock-outs. With grant support, using a combination of mobile phones, SMS, and electronic mapping technology, SMS for Life will track weekly stock levels of key anti-malarial medicines in health facilities in remote locations in Africa.

Rwanda Ministry of Health: Rwanda conducts successful health interventions through community health workers. Many community health workers are posted far from health clinic facilities and have limited means of communication. With grant support, the Rwanda Ministry of Health will be able to scale up its mHealth system for community health workers to track pregnant women, as well as better collect and report on Millennium Development Goal indicators at the community level.

Cell-Life: Cell-Life provides innovative technology for the management of HIV, as well as other infectious diseases such as TB, in South Africa. With grant support, Cell-Life will scale up a program conducted in in partnership with Vodacom that uses mobile messaging to support women in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV programme.

The Innovation Working Group was established by the UN Secretary-General to support the Every Woman Every Child initiative, launched in 2010. Its strategic objectives are to build and cultivate innovative approaches that are potential major game-changers; coordinate with existing institutions and efforts that can bring the highest impact to Every Woman Every Child, drive greater private sector inclusion to bring innovation into Every Woman Every Child, and facilitate engagement and foster partnerships across public and private stakeholder communities to accelerate innovations.

The mHealth Alliance, which is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, manages the Innovation Working Group grant program. The Alliance’s Mechael added, “As the mHealth Alliance continues to strengthen our position and convening power across a broad range of stakeholders platforms like the Innovation Working Group, the catalytic grants program allow us to act as a neutral ground for governments, international agencies, NGOs, multi-national corporations, and academic institutions to work together to catalyze and apply innovation in ways that improve the health and quality of life of women and children and their families.”

About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world. Working with diverse partners to integrate mHealth into multiple sectors, the Alliance serves as a convener for the mHealth community to overcome common challenges by sharing tools, knowledge, experience, and lessons learned. The mHealth Alliance advocates for more and better quality research and evaluation to advance the evidence base; seeks to build capacity among health and industry decision-makers, managers, and practitioners; promotes sustainable business models; and supports systems integration by advocating for standardization and interoperability of mHealth platforms. The mHealth Alliance also hosts Health Unbound (HUB), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, and UN Foundation, the Alliance now also includes PEPFAR, HP, the GSM Association, and Norad among its founding partners. For more information, visit http://www.mhealthalliance.org.

About Every Woman Every Child
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. It is an unprecedented global effort that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. The effort puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children. For more information on the Innovation Working Group or Every Woman Every Child visit www.everywomaneverychild.org.

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