Africa: Summit Promoting Mobile Technologies for Better Health Wraps Up

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11 November 2010

More than 2,500 participants from around the world in the fields of technology and public health have wrapped up a summit in Washington, DC, on how to more effectively deliver healthcare through mobile technology in the developing and developed worlds.

The three-day mHealth Summit: Research, Technology and Policy closed on Wednesday after discussions and seminars that aimed to advance the discussion around ways mobile technology can increase the access, efficiency and effectiveness of health systems.

Organizers said it was the largest event of its kind, featuring representatives from some 50 countries. Mhealth stands for mobile-based or mobile-enhanced health solutions.

Holly Ladd, vice president and director of AED's Satellife program, has pioneered the use of mobile technologies in remote health settings and was one of the speakers at the summit.

"I think for places like Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, just simply the ability to communicate by voice or text message to different sectors of the health delivery system is revolutionary," Ladd told allAfrica.

"It can identify and prevent a disease outbreak, it can mobilize resources in much smarter ways, it can help prevent stock outs, it can ensure that your staffing is appropriate to your service need and it can really save a tremendous amount of time and money for healthcare systems."

"When you start adding to the basic voice capacity and SMS capacity the ability to do smart data collection and reporting, and to do it wirelessly, you start saving tremendous amounts of money on healthcare systems and really enabling people to plan and execute in ways that we haven't been able to do before," she said.

Among the highlights from the summit:

·         The Rockefeller Foundation committed a U.S.$1 million-grant to leverage mobile technologies to improve health in low- and middle-income countries.

·         Hewlett-Packard pledged $1 million to help improve health care and health systems around the globe using mobile technology.

·         The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad, granted $1 million to support the Maternal mHealth Initiative.

This was the second annual mHealth summit. It was organized by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the mHealth Alliance and the National Institutes of Health.

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