Mobile health initiative expands to over twenty countries in Africa

Geneva 09 September 2008The United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation's Technology Partnership have expanded their mobile health - mHealth - programme 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 health care workers track health data, to 22 sub-Saharan countries by the end of 2008.

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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 health care data, making it easier to strengthen district level health care programmes 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 programme monitoring data", stated Dr. Balcha Girma Masresha, medical officer in the Immunization Programme 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 programmes, so that they can actively work toward continuous improvement."

Following successful pilot programmes 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 United Nations Millennium Development Goals for health, including reducing child and maternal mortality", stated Andrew Dunnett, director of The Vodafone Foundation. "This programme 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 programme. 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 United Nations World Health Organization and national Ministries of Health, and the technological innovation of DataDyne.org", stated 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."

The United Nations Foundation-Vodafone Foundation Partnership strives to be the leading public-private alliance using strategic technology programmes to strengthen the United Nation's humanitarian efforts worldwide. Created in October 2005, with a GBP10 million commitment from The Vodafone Foundation matched by GBP5 million from the United Nations Foundation, the Partnership has three core commitments: (1) to develop rapid response telecoms teams to aid disaster relief; (2) to develop health data systems that improve access to health data thereby helping to combat disease; and (3) to promote research and innovative initiatives using technology as an agent and tool for international development.


Leslie Versweyveld

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