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Mobile technologies are now available to 95.5% of the world’s population, according to the new mHealth Compendium Volume 5, released this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the African Strategies for Health project.
Mobile phones have become inexpensive and ubiquitous, including throughout Africa. As a result, mobile-based programs to improve health care have flourished. USAID’s new report highlights 41 case studies of such initiatives, including three from IntraHealth International:
This integrated health data and commodity-monitoring system in Senegal uses mobile phones for data collection, reporting, and supervision. Users can aggregate data in a web-based central system to visualize and manage decision support.
Through the IntraHealth-led Health Services Improvement project and in partnership with Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action, this system is helping to improve the quality and frequency of the data collected at the district and regional levels.
It is also transforming the methods and speed with which health workers, supervisors, and senior-level ministry staff use data to make decisions about maternal, neonatal, and child health programs, and to prevent stockouts of essential medicines and contraceptive products.
Read the SEDA case study.
In Senegal, the absence of a well-functioning supply chain has long been a barrier to family planning services. It is one reason Senegal’s contraceptive prevalence rate is so low (12.3% percent in 2010) and its unmet need for family planning among married women so high (29%).
To address these issues and make contraceptive products consistently available to those who want them, IntraHealth is expanding the approach known as the Informed Push Model nationally in Senegal.
Through the Informed Push Model, trained logistics operators deliver supplies to points of sale on a regular schedule, restocking where necessary and recording quantities of products sold. The logistics operators use their phones to collect data that are then used to ensure that each site and warehouse is sufficiently stocked, and allows manufacturers to keep pace with demand. This takes the burden of tracking and ordering inventory off of pharmacies and clinics.
Read the Informed Push Model case study.
Severe shortages of qualified health workers, poor communication and coordination on the front lines, and other health systems issues have exacerbated the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But even before the outbreak, these challenges made high-quality health services difficult to deliver in the region.
In August 2014, the mHero partnership—led by IntraHealth, USAID, UNICEF, and a team of international stakeholders—created mHero, a free mobile phone-based system that connects health workers to health officials, to each other, and to critical information that can save lives.
The mHero platform allows health workers, government authorities, and other key stakeholders to engage in real-time, targeted communication via two-way short message service (SMS), interactive voice response, and direct calls. mHero communications—which are flexible and scalable, and can be triggered both centrally and locally—go far beyond the traditional message blasts offered by many technology vendors, enabling stakeholders to rapidly respond to health workers’ needs.
Read the mHero case study.
Read more in the mHealth Compendium Volume 5.