Mobile Health Initiative Expands to Over 20 Countries in Africa
The United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation’s Technology Partnership (Technology Partnership) announced today the expansion of its mobile health (mHealth) program in Africa. Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the non-profit DataDyne.org, the Technology Partnership will expand the use of EpiSurveyor, an open-source application that helps healthcare workers track health data, to 22 sub-Saharan countries by the end of 2008.
EpiSurveyor, which was developed by the non-profit DataDyne.org, can be downloaded to handheld devices and is easily adaptable by workers in the field. WHO, DataDyne.org and the Technology Partnership piloted EpiSurveyor in Kenya and Zambia. Its successful implementation has greatly improved the timeliness and availability of healthcare data, making it easier to strengthen district level healthcare programs involving immunizations against malaria and other preventative programs aimed at improving public health.
“EpiSurveyor allows health workers in urban as well as rural areas to easily collect, manage and share clean and timely program monitoring data,” said Dr. Balcha Girma Masresha, medical officer in the Immunization Program in the African Region of the WHO. “The introduction of this technology is enabling health workers to better understand and identify the strengths and shortcomings of their programs, so that they can actively work toward continuous improvement.”
Following successful pilot programs in Kenya and Zambia, trainings conducted by DataDyne.org, in collaboration with WHO and local Ministries of Health, have been conducted in nine additional countries since 2007: Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda. Before the end of 2008, trainings are planned in a further 11 countries.
“Technology has a major role to play in enabling the international community to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for health, including reducing child and maternal mortality,” said Andrew Dunnett, director of The Vodafone Foundation. “This program is designed to bring innovative use of technology to bear in helping the United Nations and the worldwide community overcome some of the greatest public health challenges we face today.”
The Technology Partnership has committed over $2 million to develop this mHealth program. These funds provide direct support for in-country activities and for software development and support from DataDyne.org.
“We are proud of our partnership with The Vodafone Foundation that supports the hard work of the UN World Health Organization and national Ministries of Health, and the technological innovation of DataDyne.org,” said Kathy Bushkin Calvin, chief operating officer of the United Nations Foundation. “This is an excellent example of the power of partnerships to find an idea that works, and then bring it to scale in the service of humanity.”