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INCLUSION, EXPANSION AND THE FUTURE OF MOBILE HEALTH
The Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) has just released its second publication on the use of mobile technologies for development and humanitarian work with a focus on health. The AIDF Mobile for Development Report Part Two: Transforming Global Healthcare Through Mobile Technology is part of the AIDF Mobile for Development series. The first report was published in November 2015.
Technology and the data it collects are increasingly seen as a gateway to solving some of the most challenging sustainability issues in the developing world. The Sustainable Development Goals are focused on finding innovative ways to overcome some of the most complex development issues today. Access to affordable health is no exception. The right to health, cemented as Global Goal 3, is especially challenging to achieve in remote and resource-poor communities. Technology breaks geographical barriers that isolate many excluded groups, especially women, children, elderly and disabled, to ensure they can access quality healthcare available in the cities. The right to health will be increasingly realised through technology creating new opportunities in healthcare.
There is a debate on practical sustainability of mHealth in the developing world. The AIDF Mobile for Development Report Part Two: Transforming Global Healthcare Through Mobile Technology highlights the importance of integrating mHealth solutions into sustainable business models provided by the mobile money sector as part of the wider issue of inclusion. Expanding on integration, the report argues the need to annex mHealth with eHealth services to form a mobile-digital ecosystem, which in turn will facilitate an additional resource for national health systems, that of big data. The need to clarify and address security and protection issues in mHealth is spotlighted as a growing matter for governments. In taking mHealth forward to the next level of connectivity and innovation, particular focus is paid to its expansion and sustainability in the developing world and what this means in overcoming current challenges impeding its acceptance or adoption.
Furthermore Global Goal 17 on partnerships for sustainable development underpins the inclusive and scalable growth of mHealth solutions. Governments, community-based organisations, patients and doctors must lead in deciding, framing and introducing the most context-appropriate mHealth solutions to meet the needs in developing countries. In the spirit of the Global Goals, this encourages a stronger commitment to “leave no one behind” and ensures all people have a legitimate stake in creating a more inclusive and progressive future.
The first AIDF Mobile for Development Report addressed challenges of unsustainable mHealth consumer businesses and legistative restrictions of healthcare and telecoms markets. While introducing and expanding mHealth solutions to be sufficiently scalable in order to meet expectations and provide true benefits will ensure long-term sustainability of mobile health solutions, the AIDF report offered recommendations and next steps for mHealth to move into the next stage of innovation.
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