Thursday, June 14, 2012

mPowering Frontline Health Workers

The following is a press release about mPowering Frontline Health Workers, a new partnership between 11 distinguished leaders in the mobile and global health space.

mPowering Frontline Health Workers

Accelerating the use of cost‐effective mobile technologies to end preventable child deaths

June 14, 2012, Washington DC–Today the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the mHealth Alliance announced the creation of mPowering Frontline Health Workers, an innovative public‐private partnership designed to improve child health by accelerating the use of mobile technology by millions of health workers around the world. The mHealth Alliance, serving as the partnership secretariat, will coordinate and amplify the resources and expertise of ten founding members: USAID, UNICEF, Frontline Health Workers Coalition, Qualcomm, Vodafone, Intel, MDG Health Alliance, GlaxoSmithKline, Praekelt Foundation and Absolute Return for Kids. The partnership was announced at the Child Survival Call to Action, convened by the Governments of the United States, Ethiopia and India, and organized in close collaboration with UNICEF. The event brought together 700 global leaders representing country governments, faith‐based organizations, civil society and the private sector to kick off a long‐term, focused effort to end preventable child deaths.

Frontline health workers, including community health workers, nurses and midwives, are the first and often only link to health care for millions of people living in the developing world; they are critical in settings where overall primary health care systems are weak or inaccessible. Recruiting, retraining, retaining and supporting these workers is essential for accelerating progress towards Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. Although frontline health workers are the backbone of health systems in these resource‐constrained environments, they face numerous challenges: inadequate refresher training, weak performance incentives, difficulty reaching remote populations, a lack of supportive supervision, inadequate supply of health products, and insufficient realtime access to patient data and reference information.

Mobile technology, now pervasive in the developing world, offers a revolutionary opportunity to strengthen the capacity of frontline health workers and expand the coverage of critical maternal and child health interventions such as antenatal services, prevention of mother‐to‐child transmission of HIV, essential newborn care, pneumonia treatment and immunization. Mobile phones are often used by health workers to access life‐saving transport and to communicate directly with peers, supervisors, patients and health centers. Mobile health applications support a variety of health worker tasks including data collection, diagnosis, case management, referrals and the promotion of healthy behaviors. The proliferation of mobile payment platforms creates opportunities for integrated approaches to managing and incentivizing frontline health workers. As hardware and connectivity costs continue to decline, millions of health workers will soon be able to use interactive mHealth applications on smart phones, tablets and laptops to improve their skills and services.

"Mobile technologies present an incredible opportunity to provide frontline health workers with immediate access to timely and relevant health information and tools they can use to improve and save the lives of millions of children," said Patricia Mechael, executive director, mHealth Alliance. "This new partnership will empower frontline health workers by expanding the use of appropriate, cost‐effective and sustainable mobile technologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America."

Over the next three years, mPowering Frontline Health Workers will: 1) crowdsource innovative multi‐media health content; 2) create an online library of downloadable digital health content that can be accessed by organizations in developing countries; 3) produce a digital dictionary to enable integration and standardized reporting across multiple mHealth applications; 4) accelerate the sustainable expansion of mHealth for frontline health workers in at least three developing countries; 5) rigorously evaluate partnership impact, and 6) share experiences through a virtual global learning platform.

For more information on this new partnership, please visit:

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