An Introduction to mHealth

While you were sleeping, a new concept in the medical care sector has kicked up a twister amongst medical professionals. It has been fondly named mHealth, short for mobile health. The term is used to describe medical services or healthcare carried out through the use of mobile phones or mobile telecommunication devices.  Among other things, it can be used to expand prenatal care, improve access to medical care, and fight malnutrition to help poor African children.

A study by the WHO tells us that a staggering number of developing countries (as many as 57) have a dangerous shortage of healthcare workforce.  This translates into a global deficit of 2.4 million doctors, nurses, and midwives.

This is where mHealth can make a difference. Mobile health can provide some of the following services:  (1) rendering health related information to the public, with a special attention to hard-to-reach segment of the population, (2) greater and better access to health care, (3) better ways of tracking and diagnosing diseases, (4) giving improved medical education and training for health workers, and (5) offering timelier health information to the public so that actions can be taken on time, just to name a few benefits.

Studies have demonstrated that mobile technology improves the efficiency of healthcare delivery and makes healthcare more effective. The mHealth field is dynamic and uses a range of applications that will continue to expand as technology progresses.

Some of key applications of mHealth are already being seen in developing countries, including:

  • Education and awareness
  • Remote data collection
  • Remote monitoring
  • Communication and training for healthcare workers
  • Disease and epidemic outbreak tracking
  • Diagnostic and treatment support

mHealth promises to have a dramatic impact on the delivery of healthcare around the world. A UN report states, “A 2007 pilot in South Africa showed that with SIMpill, 90% of patients complied with their medication regime, compared with the typical 22 to 60% compliance rate without the system.”  Improved compliance with treatment regimes, greater public awareness outcomes and improved disease management are only some of the major benefits already being delivered by mHealth. (See the full UN report at

mHealth is only in its infancy but it shows enormous promise in saving lives and transforming the way care can be delivered and access improved, especially in areas like Kilifi, Kenya. For that reason, Kilifi Kids is actively involved in mHealth initiatives. Read more about what we’re doing!

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