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Report: Most Global mHealth Projects Target Communicable Diseases

February 5, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based mHealth Alliance, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have the highest number of mobile health (mHealth) projects when compared to similar low and middle income countries (LMICs). Researchers of the report looked at the adoption, implementation, funding, and impact of mHealth in LMICs in Asia and Latin America.

Of the nine countries examined in the report, Tanzania had the highest number of projects with 21. India had the second highest total of mHealth projects with 16. The researchers found that of those mHealth projects, most were targeted at finding better care for HIV, malaria, and other communicable diseases. This was the case in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin, where 48 and 40 percent of the projects were aimed after communicable diseases. In Asia, the majority of projects were targeted at maternal health.

The researchers also found that in many cases, the mHealth projects weren’t backed by policy. In most of these countries, there was a limited uptake of formal mHealth policy. Also, there was limited funding, with only 22 percent of the leading 50 global health donors having funded for mHealth activities. There was also a lack of technology standards, as one of the nine  countries belonged to the International Organization for Standards.

In order for mHealth projects to be more successful and widespread in these countries, the mHealth Alliance recommended that it and other stakeholder groups increas awareness of mHealth among policymakers in these countries. It also recommended more studies and controlled trials on mHealth’s possible impact.

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