OnQ Blog

mHealth: Getting it right in West Africa

Jun 25, 2015

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

As managers of Qualcomm Wireless Reach projects worldwide, we meet people all over the globe whose lives are transformed by improved access to health care because of the incredible power of mobile technologies invented by Qualcomm. Last week, in the UK, at the Wireless Reach-sponsored Wilton Park forum, (Re)Building health systems in West Africa: what role for ICT and mobile technologies? we had the opportunity to join 60 representatives from West African health ministries, nonprofit organizations, international development agencies, and other private sector businesses in a timely conversation about how mobile technologies can be rapidly adapted and deployed to address different health issues and disease outbreaks with a special focus on West Africa.

For example, during our participation in the Re-building health systems: getting the technology right. How? session alongside of representatives from IntraHealth International, the Liberian Ministry of Health and moderated by a Senior Advisor for Health Innovation and Technology in the Office of Science and Technology at The White House, we shared how the solution we are using for the Wireless Reach-funded CliniPAK360 mobile health system—originally designed to improve maternal and child health in Nigeria—was rapidly adapted to assist in a quick and coordinated response by the Nigerian government and health officials when Ebola broke out in July 2014. As a first responder tool, it brought frontline health workers urgently needed medical expertise, training, and the capacity for systematic data gathering, disease surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment.

We know that the global health community has a long way to go towards re-building the devastated health infrastructures left in the wake of the Ebola crisis. At the same time, we are energized by the potential of mobile technologies to impact health care delivery in these stricken geographies and were proud to share some of our strategies, best practices, and examples of how we’ve seen advanced wireless applied successfully to these extremely challenging settings.

For example, VecnaCares and InStrat Global Health Solutions, collaborators in our Nigeria CliniPAK360 project, added their voices to a discussion about establishing proper data infrastructure using wireless solutions. And, FHI 360, a collaborator in the Wireless Reach-funded Mobile Health Information System project in South Africa shared their experience properly training health care workers to respond to health care challenges using mobile tools.

This Wilton Park forum was co-organized by mPowering Frontline Health Workers, an association with whom we recently launched the ORB platform. To coincide with the event, we released two highly relevant Wireless Reach white papers, the first of which was with their assistance and is titled, “Establishing a Global End to End Mobile Content Distribution Process for Health Workers.” It addresses the need for widely accessible health content for the frontline workforce and went well with our second paper, The Primary Initiative: Addressing Maternal and Infant Health which took a look at health care in Nigeria addressing the importance of establishing proper data infrastructure through the application of innovative mHealth tools.

We both very much appreciated taking part in this incredibly interesting, forward-looking event; it was a fantastic learning experience. And, it got us thinking about how some of the exciting ideas around using mobile technologies in health care could cross over and be applied to innovative Wireless Reach projects in other sectors, such as entrepreneurship and education. The opportunities continue to be endless. Onward!

To learn more about Qualcomm Wireless Reach, please visit www.qualcomm.com/wirelessreach.