WHO publishes mHealth survey

Today the summit proper is in full force. There are supposed to be 400 delegates here in total.

This morning, the big news is that the WHO launched what it claims to be the first comprehensive review of mHealth in 114 of its member countries.

The report is quite a tome, stretching for 112 pages, but here are some of the findings:

  • The vast majority of countries (86 per cent) reported some kind of mHealth activity.
  • The most frequently reported mHealth technologies were health call centres (59 per cent), emergency toll-free telephone services (55 per cent) and managing emergencies and disasters (54 per cent).
  • Many mHealth initiatives are at pilot stage.
  • Africa reported the least mHealth activity and Europe the highest.
  • Results-based evaluation of mHealth implementations is not routinely conducted. Only 12 per cent of member states reported evaluating mHealth services.

The WHO has set itself the task of spreading best practice on mHealth implementation and is in the process of developing a National eHealth Roadmap Development Toolkit for member states. The full report can be downloaded here.

Going forward, collaboration between nations will be vital, it concludes:

“While it is anticipated that large-scale and complex programmes will become more common as mHealth matures, strategies and policies that integrate eHealth and mHealth interoperability into health services would be wise. mHealth is no different from other areas of eHealth in its need to adopt globally accepted standards and interoperable technologies, ideally using open architecture. The use of standardized information and communication technologies would enhance efficiency and reduce cost. To accomplish this, countries will need to collaborate in developing global best practices so that data can move more effectively between systems and applications.”

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

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