Africa Health Agencies net Grants to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health Using Mobile Technology

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Press Release
The Innovation Working Group (IWG) and mHealth Alliance announced the eight 2012 winners of catalytic grants today at a luncheon event held in support of Every Woman Every Child.  The IWG mHealth catalytic grant mechanism, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and implemented in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), supports innovative uses of mobile technology to advance maternal and child health, with a focus on expanding programs to wide-scale implementation.  “The power of innovation in mobile technology can only be fully utilized if success factors are identified andevidence is widely shared and utilized”, said Helga Fogstad, Head of Global Health in Norad. “The catalytic funding mechanism is intended to do just that. Taking to scale these innovations will improve provision, access, quality or use of highly needed maternal and child health services, which will help to reach MDGs 4 and 5.”
The competitive grants provide targeted technical assistance for critical, yet challenging, areas in the scale-up process, including objectives related to generating evidence appropriate for a variety of stakeholders, building partnerships, and developing sustainable business models. Throughout each two-year grant period, the mHealth Alliance and the WHO provide opportunities for collaborative learning among the grantees in their pursuit of health impact, financial sustainability, and scale.
“These catalytic grants have already advanced the progress of last year’s winners,” said Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance. “There are many innovative ideas in the mHealth field, but rarely are the implementers able to scale up these solutions to have an impact. These grants will not only allow the grantees to scale up, but they will also provide others in the mHealth space the opportunity to learn from grantees experience and findings, adding to broader efforts to strategically mainstream mobile technologies to improve the lives of women and children. ”
The eight 2012 grant winners include:
Changamka ChangamkaMicrohealth Ltd. currently provides card-based saving and health payment services in Nairobi, Kenya. Under the proposed project, these services will be transitioned to a mobile phone platform, and expanded to include targeted vouchers, informational interventions, savings incentives, and training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to be champions of hospital delivery. A preliminary evaluation of the maternal savings program that covered 3,000 women indicates a direct relationship between savings, affordability, and access to services. Changamka seeks to empower women of child-bearing age, ensuring that they have the information and financial resources needed to obtain high quality care for themselves and their babies.
Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is saving lives in low-and middle-income countries by helping people gain access to essential medicines and health services. In Malawi, Frontline SMS technology has been recognized by the Ministry of Health (MoH) as an effective mechanism for quickly tracing patients who miss appointments, communicating CD4 and Early Infant Diagnostic results, and identifying patients with other urgent and pressing medical conditions. CHAI will continue existing efforts to support Malawi’s MoH by establishing a public-private partnership with local telecommunications providers to create long-term, low-cost solutions at the national scale to make this intervention and related mHealth interventions more affordable for the government. As a result of this work, CHAI expects that all mother-infant pairs who enrolled in a Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) program and who miss an appointment will receive follow up within two weeks of their missed visit, and all mothers and their babies will return to clinics for health care within a month.
International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) The International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) is a non-profit foundation, with over 15 years of experiences in using information and communication technology as a tool for development. To further improve child and maternal health monitoring in Yirimadjo, a poor outskirt community of Bamako, Mali, IICD and Orange Mali have partnered with a community development program to strengthen the work of local mothers acting as Community Health Workers (CHWs) via mobile phones. By making use of mobiles phones and a special mobile application, the semi-literate CHWs improve patient case management by conducting prevention, diagnosis and treatment in a more efficient and cost-effective way, thus serving more people faster in Yirimadjo. The community development program focuses particularly on malaria, as it is one of the main causes of maternal and child mortality in the area.

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