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Mobile Health Summit Ends

The three-day mHealth Alliance summit wrapped up “on Wednesday after discussions and seminars that aimed to advance the discussion around ways mobile technology can increase the access, efficiency and effectiveness of health systems,” allAfrica.com reports (11/11).

News outlets reported on the developments before the conclusion of the summit:

The Vodafone Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation “introduced a new mobile phone-based health care system” designed to enable basic cell phones to reach populations in remote areas, Ghana Business News reports. “It also allows more advanced cell phones to do even more, such as checking on patients, keeping records, improving diagnosis and treatment in the field, and letting community health workers consult general practitioners and specialists for guidance. The system has a way of assisting medical staff to remotely monitor pregnant women to know when they have to go to the clinic and also diagnose them to determine what medication or medical care they need at any point in time,” the news service writes (Dowuona, 11/11).

On Wednesday, Julio Frenk of the Harvard School of Public Health “said that the full potential of new technologies will only be realized if global health systems are also transformed,” RTTNews reports. “It will be necessary to pursue innovation not only in technology but also in our institutions,” he said. “The world is experiencing the most radical transformation in history. … We are at the threshold of a new era of global health,” according to Frenk, a former health minister for Mexico (11/10).

Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, also spoke to the summit on Wednesday, RTTNews writes. According to Rodin, fast progress in computer power and mobile data transmission are sure to result in improvements in health care delivery worldwide. But, this development “must be accompanied by ‘recombinant innovation’ to ensure that the widespread access doesn’t take the three decades it did from the first cellular phone call made in 1973,” the news service reports. “The invention is often not enough,” she said. “Now for the first time in history the world has the ability to bring a system … that makes true transformational change possible, Rodin added (11/10).  

Medscape Medical News reports on panel at the summit exploring how mobile technology could change maternal and infant mortality estimates. “Less than 2% of babies around the globe have their births and deaths recorded in registries,” said Linda Wright, director of the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research at the NIH. “And stillbirths are very rarely recorded or reported in the developing world,” she said. “Registries are really the low-hanging fruit in terms of impact we can make with mobile technology,” she added.

Hamish Fraser, director of informatics and telemedicine for Partners in Health, and Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation, also spoke on the panel (Sgambati, 11/10).

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