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8 Global mHealth Projects Receive Grants

September 27, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The mHealth Alliance and the Innovation Working Group (IWG) recently announced eight grantees in support of innovative uses mobile technology to advance maternal and child health, with a focus on expanding programs to wide-scale implementation.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The competitive grants provide technical assistance for challenging areas in the scale-up of these technologies, including objectives related to generating evidence appropriate for a variety of stakeholders, building partnerships, and developing sustainable business models. Throughout each two-year grant period, the mHealth Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) will provide opportunities for collaborative learning among the grantees in their pursuit of health impact, financial sustainability, and scale.

Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance, said in a statement: “There are many innovative ideas in the mHealth field, but rarely are the implementers able to scale up these solutions to have an impact. These grants will not only allow the grantees to scale up, but they will also provide others in the mHealth space the opportunity to learn from grantees experience and findings, adding to broader efforts to strategically mainstream mobile technologies to improve the lives of women and children. ”

The eight 2012 grant winners include:

Changamka: Changamka Microhealth Ltd. currently provides card-based saving and health payment services in Nairobi, Kenya. Under the proposed project, these services will be transitioned to a mobile phone platform, and expanded to include targeted vouchers, informational interventions, savings incentives, and training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to be champions of hospital delivery.

Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is saving lives in low-and middle-income countries by helping people gain access to essential medicines and health services. In Malawi, Frontline SMS technology has been recognized by the Ministry of Health (MoH) as an effective mechanism for quickly tracing patients who miss appointments, communicating CD4 and Early Infant Diagnostic results, and identifying patients with other urgent and pressing medical conditions.

International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD): The International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) is a non-profit foundation, with over 15 years of experiences in using information and communication technology as a tool for development.

Malaria No More: Malaria No More is a nonprofit organization determined to help the world reach the global goal of near zero malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. With this in mind, Malaria No More helped develop and implement NightWatch, a malaria communications platform that uses celebrity voices to reach vulnerable populations through SMS text messaging, television, radio and music.

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. The service will tie into a dynamic community portal with social networking features, additional SMS messaging, and interactive quizzes.

Medic Mobile: Medic Mobile develops technologies to leverage low-cost mobile platforms and connect people at every level of the health system—from clinicians to community health workers to patients - working with more than 30 international and local partners across 16 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. In partnership with DMF India and Stanford University, Medic Mobile will implement a two-year, multistage plan to leverage mobile infrastructure to send automated, timely, patient-centric SMS reminders for vaccinations in India.

Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty: The Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) is a governmental institution that supports women’s self-help groups (with over 11 million members) and their federations in Andhra Pradesh, India as part of a multi-dimensional poverty alleviation strategy.  SERP’s Community Managed Health and Nutrition work is anchored at the village-level through self-help group appointed community health workers that oversee nutrition day care centers (NDCC).

VillageReach: VillageReach is a nonprofit social enterprise that extends the reach of health services to remote, underserved communities by creating dynamic delivery and information monitoring systems.

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