How mhealth can help Refugees in Europe?

As the current refugees crisis is spreading through Europe and all over the World, we have decided to open a dedicated session in our blog. When this tragedy reached our borders and, above all arrived on our media, many initiatives were born to involve the tech community on these issues. The first one was Mike Butcher’s Techfugees a conference and a hackathon where the London tech community showed their support to refugees. In a few days a Facebook group and Twitter accounts exploded, showing the huge interest of the tech community to be involved in this issue. Many other conferences, events, hackathons have been organized all over Europe, including one event in Italy, hosted by H-Farm.

Particularly, Gnucoop created a blog, called Blogfugees, that wants to be a focal point for all the organizations working for refugees and needing or looking for help from technology experts; a the place where we collect everything that can be found online on “Technology for Refugees”.

But you are now probably wondering… so what’s the connection with mhealth?

As we already know, one of the most important mhealth application is the use of mobile tools to help in the diagnosis of diseases, expecially in remote or difficult contexts.

Well, as winter starts to bite, health conditions in the migrant camps across Europe are of concern to health authorities and health providers. While there is concerted effort to improve the general conditions in these camps, progress is slow because of the scale of the task and the difficulty of providing significant numbers of doctors there.

Regarding provision of healthcare, there is one free medical app, called MedShr, that  is attempting to address these challenges by enabling doctors to upload, share and discuss medical images on a closed professional network. In camps where health conditions are very poor, MedShr is proving to be a valuable tool for doctors in the camps.

MedShr was founded in 2013 with a UK DTI Research and Development grant by Dr Asif Qasim, a London cardiologist, with the objective of creating a platform for doctors to connect with each other and discuss clinical cases in a secure place.


Many medical apps helping during the refugees crisis, such as MedShr, have become more and more important. By connecting specialists with support, diagnoses and treatment, MedShr has been used by organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and The Red Cross to work out how to support doctors in the field and contact informal groups of volunteer doctors.

A recent University of Birmingham report, underlines that conditions in the camp do not meet standards recommended by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and that ‘the shortcoming in shelter, food and water safety, personal hygiene, sanitation and security would have detrimental long-term health consequences for the camp’s residents over their lifetime’. Apps such as MedShr are among a number of apps that people and organisations are developing to help with the crisis.

Beside its specific application in the refugee camps, MedShr allows generally to:

    From ECGs, scans and X-rays to patient photos and videos, MedShr helps finding and discussing  relevant medical cases with colleagues, by specialty and at all grades. MedShr shares secure data, using private network and features a unique system for obtaining patient consent. Doctors have the possibility to follow clinical cases and learn from their peers with informal and accredited case based discussion.
    MedShr is the simple way to capture, share and discuss clinical images and videos in everyday practice. It is possibile to create a case, obtain consent and start a discussion securely from a mobile device mobile. Send medical cases to colleagues, share them with the wider community,etc…MedShr is safe, secure and enables members to maintain complete control over the privacy of their cases – with all members being 100% verified as doctors, healthcare professionals and medical students.
    Medical students and doctors of all levels are joining MedShr to advance their learning as they connect with peers from their university, place of work and across the world. Connect and follow specialists to keep up to date on their latest cases, techniques and learnings. Medical students, junior doctors and specialist trainees use MedShr groups as a resource for informal learning, ahead of case-based examinations and as an aid to formal learning.

“MedShr is a brilliant idea – smartphones connect doctors, making it possible for aid workers to get an instant medical diagnosis”  – Rohan Silver, Evening Standard. 


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