Norad funds 8 e-health projects to improve health in Africa

Eight health projects driven by mobile technology will benefit from undisclosed grant funding for maternal and child health advancements across Africa.

The grant scheme is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and implemented in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). This initiative supports innovative uses of mobile technology to advance maternal and child health, the statement from mHealth Alliance said.

During the announcement of last year’s grantees, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation gave out US$9.9 million commitment to support the use of innovative mobile technologies. It is unclear how much they have committed to this year’s grantees.

“The power of innovation in mobile technology can only be fully utilized if success factors are identified and evidence is widely shared and utilized,” Helga Fogstad, Head of Global Health in Norad said.

He added that the catalytic funding mechanism is “intended to do just that.”
“Taking to scale these innovations will improve provision, access, quality or use of highly needed maternal and child health services, which will help to reach MDGs 4 and 5,” he said.

The eight finalists include:

A health smartcard provider that proposes its services be transferred to a mobile platform to reach more users. Changamka seeks to empower women of childbearing age, ensuring that they have the information and financial resources needed to obtain high quality care for themselves and their babies.

Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)
An initiative that aims to give access to information on health, to users in remote areas. Currently Frontline SMS is using this model. CHAI hopes to give more support to access to information in Malawi.

International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)
This non-profit organization has partnered with Orange in Mali to support the access of information to community health workers through the mobile phone. Their project currently concentrates in Yirimadjo in Bamako

Malaria No More
Malaria No More will record celebrity voice messages to be sent to mobile subscribers. It offers regular, interactive activations through regional radio stations to encourage mobile engagement; and initiate a targeted SMS campaign with mobile partner Zantel in Tanzania.

Praekelt Foundation
Praekelt Foundation builds open source, scalable mobile solutions that aim to improve the wellbeing of people living in poverty in South Africa. One example is working with a program funded by the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) to provide a mobile-based SMS service for mothers and mothers-to-be with high quality, locally relevant, week-by-week information on pregnancy and infant care.

Medic Mobile
The mobile developer designs low-cost open source software for mobile users. It has its presence in 16 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. Its primary work is to send information through text messages about health appointments and reminders.

Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty
Known as SERP, the programme has partnered with Bluefrog Technologies to generate a monitoring and evaluation feedback loop between local and state level actors and to generate client-wise tracking of nutrition and health behaviour change.

A non-profit organisation that enables the reach of health services to remote, underserved communities by creating dynamic delivery and information monitoring systems. It currently operates in Malawi.

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