Vodafone Foundation, others introduce cell phone-based healthcare

The Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, have introduced a new mobile phone-based health care system that promises to save the lives of vulnerable persons in the poorest communities of the world.

The system, dubbed Mobile Health (mHealth) is designed to allow simple cell phones to be used to save the lives of mothers in childbirth, and improve the care of newborns and children in underserved populations in remote areas.

It also allows more advanced cell phones to do even more, such as checking on patients, keeping records, improving diagnosis and treatment in the field, and letting community health workers consult general practitioners and specialists for guidance.

The system has a way of assisting medical staff to remotely monitor pregnant women to know when they have to go to the clinic and also diagnose them to determine what medication or medical care they need at any point in time.

A statement from Vodafone Foundation said MHealth was designed by the mHealth Alliance, which is a partnership of the three foundations.

The mHealth Alliance just completed a three-day mHealth Summit in Washington DC today November 10, 2010, where 2,000 telecom and health experts met and explored the potential of mobile technology in health delivery and ways of promoting mHealth in developing countries.

Meanwhile the Earth Institute, through its Millennium Villages Project, is also working with governments, ministries of health and telecom companies like MTN, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Ericsson in 10 African countries to design, test and implement the mHealth system.

General Secretary of Vodafone Foundation Ghana, Afua Amankwah Sarkodie confirmed the system will come to Ghana in the nearest future.

Experts say the system will be most useful in developing countries because 70 per cent of the world’s five billion cell phone subscribers are in developing countries

By Samuel Dowuona

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