OnQ Blog

Malawi, mHealth, and mystery – oh my!

21 May 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Africa. To some, a mysterious and oftentimes misunderstood continent. Also a place, however, that I’ve grown quite fond of over the last six years in my work with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach team. Last week I visited my sixth African country, Malawi. A country full of inspiring people and gorgeous scenery. I was there to speak at a USAID-hosted event focused on mHealth interventions at the Digital Health for Overcoming Barriers to Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths and Achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Attended by more than 125 people from 12 African countries, which included an interesting mix of government ministers, private sector donors, non-profits, developers, and industry groups such as the GSMA and WHO, the event served as a follow up to previous meetings held in Tanzania and Ethiopia. In these meetings, country-based teams present their challenges and accomplishments in using mobile technology for health and their work in developing country-specific solutions. This event in Malawi provided an opportunity for countries to share their expertise and experiences with one another in order to create new avenues of collaboration and innovation in utilizing mHealth solutions in their respective countries.

I had the honor of accepting an invitation by USAID to speak about the work the private sector is engaged in as part of public-private partnerships. During a session called Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) for Accelerating Digital Health I had the opportunity to talk about many of the healthcare programs Wireless Reach has worked on with a particular focus on improving maternal and child health. A panel discussion was moderated by Maria Georgina Miguel Panzo of the Angola Ministry of Health and questions from the audience focused on the complexity of managing partner relationships and how Qualcomm, through its Wireless Reach efforts, has successfully worked with over 450 organizations as part of our 103 global programs.

The more than 30 hours it took to travel from my hometown of San Diego to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, was worth every mile and minute. While it is true that I was bestowed the “furthest traveled” award by conference participants, the true reward was the opportunity to engage with some of the people who are creating transformative change in their communities. I am humbled by the dedication and insight of the many thought-leaders and decision makers that were present. Be assured, there is incredible health innovation taking place in Africa; I look forward to seeing what the rest of the world can learn from it.

Every time I step foot onto the African continent I am astounded at the genuine drive and dedication to changing lives and the level of commitment to explore the use of new technology, platforms, and processes for the delivery of care. Their dedication inspires me to work even harder and tell the world of the incredible work going on in Africa—to unveil the mystery behind this region of the world.

To learn more about one such transformative program, please check out CliniPAK360