Each year, an astonishing 7.6 million children around the world die before their fifth birthday. The heartbreaking fact is that a large majority of these deaths are preventable. For the first time in history, the technology and the knowledge now exist to address this terrible problem by bringing life-saving interventions, even to those that live in the hardest-to-reach areas. The severe shortage of trained frontline health workers has been a key barrier to reducing maternal mortality and ending preventable child deaths. Mobile technology has shown much promise in its ability to provide field training for health workers through apps that support data collection, communication, clinical decision-making, supervision and the promotion of healthy behaviors.
Today, I joined UNICEF; government representatives from the United States, India, and Ethiopia; and special guests Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor/philanthropist Ben Affleck at the “Child Survival Call to Action” forum in Washington, DC. The forum was called to amplify the global commitment to ending preventable child deaths and to identify the substantial and immediate investments that can be dedicated to this cause.
At the Call to Action, the mHealth Alliance, along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Qualcomm and other organizations announced “mPowering Frontline Health Workers”, a collaborative effort to harness the power of mobile technology to help frontline workers deliver high-quality maternal and child health services in low‐resource settings, with the goal of reducing preventable child deaths. Qualcomm is participating in this work through our Wireless Reach™ initiative, a strategic program that brings wireless technology to underserved communities globally.
To start, the project members will focus on creating and organizing mobile content that addresses the gaps in health workers’ knowledge and performance. As organizations share multi‐media, multilingual content in the form of video, animation, images, and more, a digital library will store this information in an online repository where users can search, download and incorporate content into mobile applications and training programs.
Once this library is organized, the project will do the following in several countries:
- Implement programs to deliver the content to frontline workers
- Provide education and support tools
- Ensure organizations are using these resources for training
- Evaluate the impact on frontline health workers’ ability to provide better care
Over the past two decades, committed countries, organizations and companies were able to contribute to the reduction of the global number of child deaths by nearly 4.5 million. This momentum was amplified in today’s “Child Survival Call to Action” forum and will continue forward as the mPowering Frontline Health Workers effort gets under way. Qualcomm looks forward to participating in this important project and seeing the progress that all of us can make as we support health care workers and help to ensure children live longer, healthier lives.