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Posts Tagged ‘cell phones’

In my last few weeks at the Maternal Health Task Force, I have been working with Raji Mohanam, Knowledge Management Specialist at the MHTF, Matthew Meschery, Director of Digital Initiatives at ITVS, and Lisa Russell, Filmmaker and Co-Founder of MDGFive.com, and an incredible team of presenters, to coordinate a panel presentation on digital tools for maternal health for the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi. Take a look below for a post I wrote for the MHTF Blog about the upcoming panel session–with info on how to participate remotely.

I am off to India tomorrow! Check back next week for posts from the conference.

The upcoming Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi (August 30th-September 1st) will focus on lessons learned, neglected issues, and innovative approaches to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. The anticipated outcome of the conference is increased consensus around the evidence, programs and advocacy needed to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.

One session, Maternal Health Digital, will showcase a number of digital communication tools being applied to maternal health. Matthew Meschery, Director of Digital Initiatives at the Independent Television Service, will moderate the session—and will guide panelists and participants through a lively discussion that will explore the potential of digital tools to improve the health of women around the world. Panelists will also address questions about how to measure the impact of such projects.

Throughout the session, conference participants will learn about an email help desk that is aiming to increase access to misoprostol and mifepristine, a mobile phone and radio initiative that is aiming to improve delivery of maternal and neonatal health services, an online media “mash-up” tool that is enabling users to make their own advocacy videos, a crowd-sourcing project that is tapping into the knowledge of front-line maternal health care providers in 9 languages, and more.

This exciting session will include presentations from Google.orgWomen on WebZMQ Software SystemsHealth ChildMDGFive.com, the Social Media Research Foundation, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis ReportingUniversity of Oxford, the Maternal Health Task Force, and the Independent Television Service.

Take a look at the session summary:

In recent years, the health, technology, and communication sectors have come together to innovate health communications through the use of digital media. Advances in tools for cross-media storytelling, social networking, digital games, real-time messaging, and mobile and location-aware technologies are being adapted to fit the needs of the maternal health community—and are helping to fuel the increased momentum around the issue. In this interactive session, conference participants will learn about a diverse range of innovative projects that are aiming to identify challenges and solutions for providing care to pregnant women, build stronger connections among maternal health organizations, create new ways to collect and use data, foster increased collaboration through engaging communities, and continue to drive attention toward the issue. As well as highlighting the promise of these new tools, we will also look at some specific challenges such as measuring impact, working in areas with limited connectivity, and merging online and offline strategies. There will be a series of mini-presentations on crowd-sourcing, interactive mapping, a media mash-up tool, an online reporting hub, mobile health campaigns, and more. Participants will not only get an over-view of a wide variety of strategies and recent developments in digital health communications—but they will also learn tips for applying many of these new tools to their own work and engage in a dialogue around how to maximize the utility of these technologies in order to significantly improve the health of women around the world.

This session will be live streamed! Click here for the live stream schedule.

Join the discussion via Twitter! Conference hashtag: #GMHC2010, Session hashtag: #GMHC2010Digital


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Several U.N. agencies recently collaborated on a text messaging initiative to improve communication between community health workers and pregnant women in a community in Rwanda. Local women, health workers, and hospital directors are raving about the initiative but scaling up the project throughout the country may prove challenging; only 6% of the population in Rwanda has electricity and charging phones often means long walks to charging stations.

Reuters

“…John Kalach, director of the nearest hospital in Ruhengeri, says since Rapid SMS launched in August 2009, his hospital has had no maternal deaths, compared to 10 the previous year.

‘We used to get ladies coming here with serious complications just because they delayed the decision because the journey was very long,’ he says.

Kalach says authorities can use the data to work out which diseases affect women during pregnancy, the causes of death for children below five years, the volume and type of drugs required, and to monitor population growth rates.

Friday Nwaigwe, UNICEF’s country head of child health and nutrition, says the next step is to give mobile phones to 17,500 maternal health workers across the country and eventually to all 50,000 community health workers…”

Read the full story here.

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Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) and Maternova are partnering on a project aiming to increase access to skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care for women in Chiapas, Mexico—through the use of mobile technologies for health (mHealth).

From an email announcement I received from ARHP on Tuesday (5/11):

“All of us who care deeply about reproductive health have been closely following the conflicting data from The Lancet and the WHO on maternal mortality rates.

Regardless of the direction of global rates, we know that women in remote areas of Mexico are facing incredible challenges in giving birth safely. Patients lack a comprehensive clearinghouse directing them to local clinics or differentiating levels of care available at facilities.

With generous support from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, ARHP and Maternova have partnered on a pilot mobile health (mHealth) initiative in Chiapas, Mexico. We are pleased to be on the leading edge of the mHealth movement, which aims to leverage the growing worldwide popularity of mobile devices to provide critical health services.

This project will create an interactive maternal health mapping tool, allowing women to find skilled providers by geographic area quickly and easily. This SmartMap will be accessible from any web-enabled device and provide detailed information about the quality and types of services offered in each clinic listed. In an emergency obstetric situation, the ability to find skilled attendants and well-equipped facilities via mobile phone can make the difference between life and death.

We are just beginning to work with our partners, Development Seed and the Comite Promotor por una Maternidad sin Riesgos (Committee for the Promotion of Safe Motherhood), on this pilot project identifying and mapping facilities in Chiapas. We are looking forward to launching the populated map by the end of 2010 and to the possibility of future stages of the project, which would make the map accessible via text message.

Get involved in this cutting-edge, lifesaving initiative:

  • Reach out to Aleya Horn at ARHP and let us know if you or your colleagues work in Chiapas, Mexico
  • Provide local contacts for collaboration or local clinics for the map
  • Make a donation to support this critical partnership and help us expand the pilot project to other underserved areas in Mexico and around the world”

Be sure to check out the Maternova blog–that highlights all sorts of innovations in maternal and neonatal health.

Posts I found especially interesting:

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Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) and mHealth Alliance are holding a free online conference this Wednesday (May 5th) to discuss how mobile technologies can improve family planning and maternal and newborn health services in developing countries.

The conference will include live discussions with mHealth leaders on a variety of topics including strengthening community health workers; open source trends and implications; and gender, phones and reproductive health. The themes of the three panel discussions will be mHealth interventions along the continuum of care, mHealth applications addressing different stakeholder needs, and cross-cutting mHealth issues.

Click here to view the conference schedule and to register as a participant.

Click here for a March 13 post on this conference with additional background information.

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A March 6th, 2010 post on Global Health Ideas provides info on an upcoming e-conference on the use of mobile technologies to improve family planning and maternal and newborn health services in developing countries.

Global Health Ideas

Online Conference May 5, 2010

“The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Project is launching an annual eConference to advance private sector innovations in the sustainable provision and use of quality family planning/reproductive health and other health information products and services. The theme of the 20l0 eConference is mHealth which is the use of mobile technology to improve health program effectiveness and efficiency.

The SHOPS Proiect and the mHealth Alliance invite you to submit an abstract by March 17, 2010 to present at this online conference which will focus on how mobile technologies can improve family planning, maternal and newborn services in the developing world…”

For more info, read the full post, USAID, mHealth Alliance Online Conference May 5th, 2010, on Global Health Ideas. 

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The Grameen Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Ghana Health Service are working together on a project called Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH). This joint initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation,  is exploring how to best use mobile phones to increase quality and quantity of maternal and neonatal health services in Ghana.

MobileActive.org

“…For example, a woman might come in for a health check-up when she’s 12 or 14 weeks pregnant, at which point she would be registered into the MoTeCH system. She would then be on track to receive two kinds of messages: informative texts and action texts. The informative texts simply tell the parents what to expect (i.e., developmental stages) during a pregnancy, while the action texts encourage parents to make clinic visits based on their personal histories (such as needs for shots or follow-up appointments).

The other target audience of MoTeCH is community health workers who provide the vast majority of primary care in much of the developing world. The workers use mobile phones to enter data such as when they have seen a patient and what kind of treatment these patients received. Data is then compiled to more easily track patients.

The idea behind MoTeCH is to link the two systems so that the messages can be more specifically targeted and tailored to the needs of the individual parents; for example, if a pregnant woman misses a tetanus shot, the community health workers’ records will show how many weeks along she is and she can be easily sent a reminder. Similarly, messages can be sent to village community health workers alerting them to patients who are in need of specific services in order to locate the patient and encourage him or her to get treatment. ‘It gets community health care workers out of the clinic and seeking patients who need care a little bit more immediately,’ said Wood…”

Read the full story here.

For more info on the subject, take a look at Dying for Cell Phones (Literally).

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GHANA
www.irinnews.org

Access to cell phone technology has contributed to a dramatic reduction in maternal mortality in small villages in Ghana.

In 2006, as part of the Millennium Villages Project, cell phone producer Ericsson teamed up with mobile telecommunications firm Zain to set up mobile phone coverage in several villages in Ghana including Amensie. The companies distributed free phones to health workers and sold phones to villagers for US$10 a phone.

District Nurse Madam Lvdia Owusu said, “When we did not have mobile telecommunication, women were dying.” But since the cell phone project began in 2006, not a single maternal death has been reported in Amensie.

Public health and aid workers note that various improvements in primary health care in Amensie have contributed to the reduction in maternal mortality–but they say that the availability of cell phones has been pivotal.

Read the full story here.

To learn more about the commitment Zain has made to help Ghana achieve the Millennium Development Goals, click here.

Also, check out www.mobileactive.org, a global network of people using mobile technology for social impact.

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