Inaugural Global Health Track Launched at mHealth Summit

Angela Nash-Mercado

JHU∙CCP | Partnerships Director

Last week, nearly 4,000 delegates from 56 countries came together for the 4th annual mHealth Summit to share approaches and discuss how to advance the field of mHealth to improve health outcomes. For the global health community this particular summit was a milestone because for the first time a global health track was included in the program.

K4Health was proud to be a part of the 16-member committee that developed an agenda for this track. Presentations in the global health track highlighted many pressing issues for the global health community including partnering for success, scale-up, health workforce capacity development, technology standards and interoperability, and other implementation issues. The presentations cut across a wide range of health issues including issues of family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and more. There are many diverse global health projects and funders using mHealth as a tool for counseling, data collection, and continuing education as well as linking providers with delivery of SMS messages.

In addition to sharing progress and challenges and charting the course in mHealth for global health programs, the global health track helped facilitate partnerships between the diverse number of players including those in academia, donors, developers, and program implementers. In her opening remarks, Patricia Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance, said, “For me, 2013 is the year for scale for mHealth,” in the nearly 10 years since she began working on mobile health programs in developing countries, adding:

mHealth has transitioned from a novel idea to a strategy for global health. We are seeing great progress in the growth and rigor of mHealth evaluations and greater attention to evidence.

With this progress, there is a greater need to share what works in the field of mHealth for use in global health programs. One of the goals of the global heath track of the Summit was to better facilitate partnerships to both share the evidence and scale technologies and strategies that are effective in this rapidly evolving field. It will be interesting to see how the partnerships and collaborations forged in this field contribute to scale.