Hello everybody! My name is Paola Fava, I am a business developer and cofounder of Gnucoop, an IT cooperative that provides software solutions to support not for profit organisations (i.e.: NGOs, UN Agencies, etc…) in managing their information systems, from data collection to data visualization and analysis. I would like to thank ONG2.0 for giving Gnucoop the possibility to use this space to share with you some interesting facts, information or talks about mHealth, mHealth tools, presentation of case studies and user’s
So, let’s start blogging!
We start with some basic information… what is mHealth? First of all, we need to understand what an health system is. An Health system is a combination of structures, processes and resources required to deliver healthcare to the population. Therefore, this system needs financing mechanisms, well trained and paid workforce, reliable information and well maintained facilities to guarantee a good service to patients.
Where does the mHealth come in then?
Well, in some contexts those requirements are not totally fulfilled. Particularly when reliable information is missing, it is very difficult to monitor the spread of diseases, understand if patients’ conditions are properly diagnosed or if proper treatments are given, just to mention a few… here is where mHealth can play a very important role.
According to WHO, Mobile Health (mHealth) is the “Provision of health services and information via mobile and wireless technologies. mHealth includes mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), tablets, mobile applications and wireless medical devices“.
mHealth has the potential to address and overcome challenges such as:
- Disparities in access to health services, helping remote communities to also connect and avail of health services;
- Inadequacies of the health infrastructure, supporting in monitoring the quality of health posts and health centers;
- Shortage of human resources for health, by empowering health promoters and spreading educational messages.
Let’s start with a first example of mhealth tool: the MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action) project.
MAMA is an SMS system developed through a public private partnership between USAID, Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter. It supports programs delivering maternal health information to pregnant women by SMS. The messages are built around key health behaviors and interventions which evidence shows can improve health outcomes. The messages blend healthcare with child development information, so mothers are motivated to get the right care at the right time for themselves and their children. These include antenatal care, nutrition, vaccination, oral rehydration, and use of insecticide treated bed nets.
Since 2011, the system has reached 2 millions people among women families and caregivers living in remote communities in Bangladesh, South Africa, India and Nigeria. MAMA messages empower women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Talk soon about another mhealth tool or case study.
Originally written by Paola Fava
Photo Credits: Educational text messages to new mothers save lives