MHealth: ITU, WHO Launch Health Initiative To Combat Non-Communicable Diseases
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have announced a new partnership called the ‘mHealth’ Initiative to combat non-communicable diseases.. A joint statement by the organisations said the initiative used mobile technology, in particular text messaging and applications, to help combat diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.
It said non-communicable diseases were some of the leading causes of death in both developed countries and emerging economies alike.“They dominate health care needs and expenditures in most developed as well as most low- and middle-income countries. “Of the 57 million deaths globally, NCDs contribute to an estimated 36 million deaths every year, including 14 million people dying between the ages of 30 and 70. “Using mobile telephone technology mHealth practices can help save lives, reduce illness and disability, and reduce healthcare costs significantly,’’ the statement said.It added that the ITU and WHO would provide evidence-based and operational guidance to encourage partners worldwide, especially governments, to implement mHealth interventions to address prevention and treatment of NCDs.It will also address their common risk factors — tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol, the statement said.It said the initiative was being discussed at the ITU Telecom World 2012, currently in session at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“The conference is a rare opportunity for thought leaders and digital pioneers in the corporate, research and academic sectors from around the world to meet with policy makers and regulators.“Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control.“The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health,’’ the statement said. It noted that by joining forces, ITU and WHO would fight debilitating non-communicable diseases that could be controlled through the intervention of mHealth solutions and services that were cost effective, scalable and sustainable. “In doing so, we will help to end a scourge that hinders economic growth and development around the world,” it quoted the ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure as saying.“The ITU-WHO mHealth initiative will build on current projects, existing health systems and platforms, and will involve partnerships between governments, NGOs and the private sector. “WHO is already using mobile devices to carry out surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors. “For example, the Global Adult Tobacco Surveillance system has used mobile phones to capture data on tobacco use in 17 countries – covering over half of the world’s population.“This experience of running population-scale mobile projects will be vital to the initiative.”
It added that WHO and ITU Member States were also testing mobile solutions for NCDs – ranging from providing assistance to help people quit tobacco to helping patients better manage their conditions.The statement said the ITU-WHO mHealth Initiative, which would initially run for a four-year period and focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement to control non-communicable diseases, would work with partnerships at all levels.“At the global level, partners will share knowledge and technical expertise to help develop the standard operating procedure for each mHealth intervention as well as build support for the Initiative
At the national level, governments work closely with the Initiative to accelerate the roll out of operational projects,’’ it said. The joint ITU-WHO work plan is a direct follow up to the high level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs convened by the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2011.The world leaders and the UN community agreed to pay greater attention to finding ways to deal with the growing global spread of NCD’s and UN agencies agreed to work together to prevent and control NCDs and their risk factors.
Source: Nigerian Observer News