A new alliance to develop innovations in mobile health (mHealth) in Africa has been announced at the Global mHealth Forum by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and telecoms company Orange.
In a statement, both partners said the mHealth innovations will help treat and care for individuals in developing countries across Africa.
“With the increasing use and decreasing cost of mobile phones, leveraging mobile phone technology to accelerate acces to health information and services is a game changer,” said Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health. “USAID’s partnerships with private companies, such as Orange, enable us to have a larger impact in a cost-effective manner.”
The statement revealed the first phase of the health system-strengthening programs will leverage the expertise, technology and local resources of both organizations to improve quality of care and ensure that health services are readily accessible to the public at large, while future services will use integrated mHealth platforms and Orange mobile networks to communicate alerts and share resources around family planning and maternal health.
“Healthcare workers will be able to use the technology to share medical expertise, collaborate with specialists regardless of location, and improve patient care. In addition, the public will be able to access health information via the mHealth platforms. Orange’s global fooprint, with mobile and fixed networks in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, will provide seamless and reliable access to these services,” they stated.
The partnering organisations said the goal of the alliance is to create a framework for easily replicating these important mobile services in a number of African countries throughout the region. In West Africa, USAID and Orange are starting to develop a regional platform with a menu of mobile applications that ministries of health, donors and NGOs could use for consumer education, health worker tools, mobile money, and data collection.
“There is a tremendous amount of good that mobile technology and digital innovations can bring to improve the quality of healthcare to those less fortunate,” said Thierry Zylberberg, Director, Orange Healthcare. “Together with USAID, we are creating innovative mHealth platforms that open up the opportunities for remote patient monitoring or healthcare workers to make better-informed decisions and facilitate quality care for all citizens.”