mHealth Alliance Annual Summit Kicks Off With $1M HP Donation, Discussion Of Improving Maternal, Child Health

The mHealth Alliance on Monday at its summit in Washington, D.C., “announced a two-year $1 million aggregate donation from HP” aimed at furthering the alliance’s goal of delivering quality health care “at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices,” mobihealthnews reports. HP now joins the U.N. Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation, PEPFAR and the GSM Association as a founding partner of the alliance (Dolan, 11/8). mHealth Alliance Executive Director David Aylward said of the donation in a press release: “HP’s financial, technical and project support to mHealth Alliance initiatives significantly expands our ability to catalyze the partnerships, solutions, and sustainable deployments of mobile technology that can enable healthier lives for all, especially in the developing world” (11/8).

Health and technology experts are “in the nation’s capitol this week [at the mHealth Summit] to promote the use of mobile phones in delivering improved medical outcomes,” RTTNews notes (11/8). Experts discussed how mobile phones “can save the lives of mothers in childbirth, and improve the care of newborns and children, reaching underserved populations in remote areas,” ANI/Sify News reports.

“With mobile technologies for health, called ‘mhealth’ or ‘mobile health,’ we’re extending capabilities to where they don’t exist today,” Aylward said. “In the near future, wireless diagnostics like stethoscopes, blood pressure, temperature and insulin monitors, and ultrasounds will enable remote diagnosis and treatment far from the closest doctor or clinic,” he said.

“At the most basic level, mobile phones can be used to keep track of people, call for emergency assistance, remind them of appointments and share information,” said Julian Schweitzer, former chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). “But then you can layer on things like check lists, protocols, the steps to ensure a safe birth and action instructions in particular circumstances,” he added (11/8).

In a keynote speech opening the summit, Francis Collins, director of the NIH, said his agency’s commitment to mobile health is “wide and deep,” mobihealthnews reports. In his presentation, Collins highlighted “NIH’s increasing number of research grants related to mobile health, a handful of sample mHealth applications and a new summer program that aims to train researchers interested in mHealth,” according to mobihealthnews. Most of NIH’s 20 institutes have received grants for mobile technology research and more than $36 million has been awarded for mobile health research this year, he said. “Some 150 mHealth awards were granted by the NIH in 2010 alone, which doubles the number awarded just two years ago in 2008, according to Collins’ presentation,” the news service writes.

Collins also talked about several NIH-funded mHealth technologies, “including a lens-less microscope that attaches to a cell phone,” mobihealthnews reports. “One of Collins’ closing remarks was particularly poignant as he addressed the seeming duality between ‘developing markets’ and ‘developed’ markets: The opposite of ‘global’ is not ‘domestic,’ he said” (Dolan, 11/8).

Two thousand participants are expected at the second annual summit, which “is co-sponsored by the mHealth Alliance, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and NIH to further explore the potential of mobile technology in the health field, to promote its use, and to seek ways to overcome some of the current obstacles,” according to a press release from PMNCH (11/8).  

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