UN, Vodafone Foundations Support Expansion of Mobile Health Initiative in Africa

The United Nations Foundation and the UK-based Vodafone Foundation have announced a $2 million commitment by their Technology Partnership to augment its mobile health (mHealth) program in Africa.

Working with the World Health Organization and the nonprofit DataDyne.org, the partnership will expand the use of EpiSurveyor, an open-source application that helps healthcare workers track health data, to twenty-two countries by the end of 2008. EpiSurveyor, which DataDyne developed, can be downloaded to handheld devices, and is easily adaptable by workers in the field. WHO, DataDyne.org, and the Technology Partnership piloted EpiSurveyor in Kenya and Zambia, where its implementation has greatly improved the timeliness and availability of healthcare data, making it easier to strengthen initiatives including malaria immunizations and other preventative programs aimed at improving public health.

Building on its success, trainings have been conducted in nine other African countries since 2007 — Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda. Other trainings are planned in eleven more countries before the end of 2008.

"Technology has a major role to play in enabling the international community to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for health, including reducing child and maternal mortality," said Vodafone Foundation director Andrew Dunnett. "This program is designed to bring innovative use of technology to bear in helping the United Nations and the worldwide community overcome some of the greatest public health challenges we face today."

"Mobile Health Initiative Expands to Over 20 Countries in Africa." United Nations Foundation and Exxon Mobil Foundation Press Release 09/09/2008.