mHealth for Mothers: Video Review

mHealth, defined as the use of mobile technology to support healthcare, is arguably one of the hottest global health trends right now. With rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, along with the continued growth of cellular networks, mHealth has the potential to address some of the biggest healthcare challenges in the world, including access and affordability. It’s becoming more and more integrated into healthcare systems as it can significantly cut costs and increase the reach of healthcare services in both middle- and low-income countries.

This video, released last month at the Social Good Summit during UN General Assembly Week in New York City, provides the following example of the kind of impact mHealth can have in developing countries:

  • Challenge – Most women around the world only have one prenatal visit with a healthcare worker. However, one billion women in developing countries have access to a mobile phone.
  • Solution – Use SMS and voice messaging to provide mothers with important information in their native language at each stage of pregnancy and throughout the first full year of the child’s life.

During my last trip to Nigeria I had my first personal experience with mHealth. Upon arrival, I purchased a basic Nokia bar phone and SIM card. While playing around with the phone, I stumbled upon the Nokia Life Tools app which is a standard, built-in feature on some models of Nokia bar phones. The app provides healthcare, entertainment, agricultural, and educational information. The healthcare section peaked my interest as it includes sections for MNCH advice, men’s health, women’s health, and chronic disease information. First, you enter basic details about yourself (sex, age, language, etc.), then you scroll through and subscribe to whichever topics you’re interested in. The MNCH advice section parallels the example in the video above. It delivers weekly developmental information during pregnancy via SMS and continues with child development tips for the first few years after pregnancy. The only costs associated with the app are standard text messaging fees.  

In addition to patient education, health workers and providers also use mHealth for data collection, disease surveillance and management, treatment support, direct care, and more. Developing countries are definitely embracing the movement and driving innovations in mHealth, making it an exciting field with the potential to transform healthcare all over the world.

IH News Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • Medical Insurance bill has been passed by the lawmakers in Rwanda on Friday.
  • Chinese government has signed U.S. $35 million loan agreement with Rwanda which includes the projects for the improvement of health of people.
  • According to the Food and Health Bureau in Hong Kong, the country will not accept any bookings by pregnant non-local women for delivery in Hong Kong starting January1, 2013.
  • Sindh government (Pakistan) has ordered mandatory vaccination of children against measles virus.
  • In order to boost anti-AIDS program and prolong lives Brazil will track the numbers of HIV cases in the country.
  • New air pollution standards for industrial boilers have been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Alabama (U.S.) to end isolation of inmates with H.I.V.

Programs:

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $5 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to promote use of oral cholera vaccine worldwide.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with International Telecommunications union (ITU) has launched “mHeath” initiative to fight diseases in Africa.
  • $40mn health care city project by the UAE based Tasweek Real Estate Marketing and Development is estimated to be completed in 2 years and will be the largest health and tourist project in Morocco.
  • World Vision Rwanda has launched its global advocacy campaign “Child Health Now Campaign” aimed at reducing the preventable deaths of children who are under five years of age.
  • The World Health Organization (The WHO) offers review of key global public health issues- says the key public health milestones were reached in 2012.
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s tablet Sirturo wins FDA approval to treat drug – resistant tuberculosis.
  • A free-to-play mobile game available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (THRED) has been launched by Coca-Cola Company with (RED) to raise the awareness and funds for the fight to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.

Research:

  • A study done in Britain revealed that the female students consume alcohol more than males.
  • A study done by the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) states that to beat AIDS related deaths it is important to improve Tb-HIV collaborative services.
  • A study done by the United Nations (The UN) states that the Philippines has failed to curb the spread of HIV virus. It has reported a 25% increase in the incidence rate of this deadly infection among the adult’s ages 15-49 years from 2001- 2011.
  • A report released by the WHO states that infant mortality rate is high in Uganda. More than 7 million children below the age of five years died in 2011 alone.
  • Researchers from Australia and Britain have found a link between milk producing protein and aggressive breast cancer in females.
  • According to a recent study sleep apnea is as detrimental to heart health as diabetes. The researchers found that snoring could be a warning sign for OSA or even a sign that serious heart problems could be developing.
  • Dutch scientists state that junk food and genes can deliver colon cancer.
  • According to a journal Nature Genetics three uncommon genetic variants influence the production of insulin.
  • Scientists have sequenced the genome of a fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii , laying the groundwork for new ways to treat a strain of pneumonia.
  • A study published in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology state that the lifestyle parameters are linked to cardiovascular disease.
  • A study published in Diabetes Care stated that women who experienced early menopause have a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • A study reported in British Medically Journal suggests that gluten free diet helps to fight type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Diseases and Disasters:

  • According to the experts the outbreak of yellow fever in Sudan is among the worst faced by it in the past twenty years.
  • Shortage of typhoid vaccine in UK has led the doctors to warn travelers to developing countries in areas with poor sanitation.
  • The Center for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department Hong Kong has called on parents to refrain from feeding their babies with an infant formula imported from Japan.
  • According to the Palestinian health official outbreak of swine flu has killed nine people in the country.
  • Japan suspects norovirus outbreak in Yokohama hospital in southern Tokyo. The authorities say that the infection has killed four elderly people.
  • According to the Pakistani authorities, 33 people have been suspected to die due to consumption of a cough syrup.
  • The U.S. State Department has issued a revised travel advisory on the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country- Haiti about violent crime, infectious disease and poor medical facilities in Haiti.

 

Global Health News Last Week

SECTION NEWS
The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe. Interested parties should register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842.


POLITICS AND POLICY

PROGRAMS

  • Sanitation and hygiene are sensitive and unpopular subjects, but funding them is essential to fighting disease, ensuring basic rights and meeting millennium development goals.
  • The Gates Foundation’s European director Joe Cerrell comes to the defense of the beleaguered Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, arguing to improve on its “impressive record and ensure that millions more lives are saved and the progress against global disease is secured for generations to come.”
  • Almost four months into the Horn of Africa crisis, aid agencies are involved in much soul-searching as to whether they could have responded more quickly to the drought and famine.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

  • A Japanese company, the Sumitomo Chemical Company, unveiled a new kind of insecticide treated bed net at a product launch in Kenya.
  • Pregnant women who load up on fruits, veggies and whole grains have a reduced risk of having babies with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida or cleft lip, according to one of the first studies to look at the connection between diet and birth defects.
  • A study by Stanford researchers has determined that infant health can be improved when a mother has a low-fat high fiber diet up to a year prior to getting pregnant.
  • A study published in the British Medical Journal says that if current smoking trends continue until 2050, TB related deaths will jump by 40 million.
  • Though young, there is a lot of potential in what mHealth can offer in developing countries. Amanda Glassman shares some ways that it can be improved.
  • Researchers at the University of Washington have reported some highly problematic findings regarding a common method of birth control in eastern and southern Africa. They are problematic in that they indicate a popular injectable hormone, Depo-Provera, used by perhaps 140 million women worldwide (and often in poor settings) signficantly raises a woman’s risk of HIV infection.
  • Test subjects in a Spanish HIV vaccine trial have shown a 90 percent immune response.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • A cohort of American and British researchers say that by investing in AIDS treatments, money can be saved in the long term.
  • What should be the top priorities in global health? Infectious diseases? Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)? Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)? A research scientist wonders at the confusion amid this sea of bad acronyms.
  • Former US President Carter is leading the fight against guinea worm making a request that WHO members provide $93 million in funding to wipe out the disease.  DfID has committed to support the push against guinea worm by announcing it will allocating £20 million to the effort.
  • The business news channel CNBC has published an extensive report on the lucrative and growing Dangerous World of Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.

Global Health News, Week of September 26-30

SECTION NEWS
The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe. Interested parties should register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842.


The University of Washington has launched the first full year of its Global Health Minor program!

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the public for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed.
  • Latin American leaders have agreed to accelerate their efforts to address maternal health at the 51st Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.
  • Journalist Georgianne Nienaber looks at the impact of PEPFAR and how it may be impacted by budget battles in Congress.
  • Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a report analyzing air pollution levels in nearly 1100 cities in 91 countries. The analysis was based on air particulate levels between 2003 and 2010.
  • When it came out a while ago that the CIA had used a fake vaccination scheme to try to find out where Osama bin Laden might be in Pakistan, many said it would undermine real health and humanitarian efforts. Here’s one group’s story.
  • Foreign aid has acquired a bad reputation in recent years, as something usually wasteful and useless. Yet all this sound and fury has overshadowed the evidence that aid often can work.
  • A report by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health finds that over 100 countries have increased financing for maternal and child health initiatives.
  • The humanitarian impact of the world economic crisis became clearer this week, as the UN warned of huge job losses, a rise in the number of people afflicted by chronic undernourishment, and the “extraordinary price” being paid by children as “austerity programs” constrict the developing world.
  • There is enough water in the world’s rivers to meet the demands of the expanding global population, but the rivers have to be better managed, according to a series of studies released today at the 14th World Water Congress in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil.
  • UNICEF has called on the IMF and World Bank to ensure that children are not negatively impacted by austerity measures carried out by various countries.

PROGRAMS

  • The New York Times shows how male circumcision is one of the most effective and simple solutions in HIV reduction, but has so far been hard to implement.  Meanwhile, a group of economists, including Bjorn Lomborg, are casting doubt on the cost-effectiveness of voluntary male circumcision campaigns as an HIV prevention measure.
  • The New York Times features an article about the simple innovation of using vinegar to detect if a woman has cervical cancer by applying it with a brush to the cervix.
  • The Global Fund, the world’s largest funder of global health, is set to radically shake up the way it disburses and manages donor money, in a move to boost efficiency that could reallocate a third of its financing in order to save more lives.
  • On Tuesday, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization announced that it will be expanding its target vaccine areas to directly address diarrhea and pneumonia.
  • UNFPA has announced that it is now collaborating with UNICEF to combat Female Genital Mutilation.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Roads may accelerate spread of antibiotic resistance: Samples from villages by major roads in Ecuador compared to more rural villages shows antibiotic resistant E. coli is spreading along roads.
  • The recent heavy flooding caused by the monsoon in Pakistan, most devastating in Sindh, has affected the lives of over five million people. The Health and Nutrition Cluster is appealing for US$45.9 million. WHO requires US$14.8 for response for Health, Nutrition and Water and Sanitation intervention.
  • New enterovirus causes respiratory disease: Promed reports on 6 clusters of respiratory illness associated with human enterovirus 68 in Asia, Europe, and the United States during 2008–2010.
  • More than 20 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lacks basic sanitation and 15 percent has no access to drinking water because of poor management, said experts at a meeting that ended Thursday in Brazil.
  • The likelihood of water-borne disease outbreaks is high in areas in Philippines recently devastated by Typhoon Nesat.
  • Aid groups are criticizing the U.S.government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea. The charities warn that many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation.
  • In a new report on rabies, the WHO finds that 45% of cases in the world take place in Southeast Asia.
  • A decade-long study of 135,000 men found that those who did not have children had a higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who did, raising new questions over the links between fertility and overall health,U.S. researchers said on Monday.
  • More money is needed to save lives in famine-ravaged East Africa, with the UN saying it’s something like $700 million through year’s end. The World Bank announced from Washington it would boost its aid to area countries to nearly $1.9 billion.  As if famine weren’t enough, Nick Kristoff tells us that as Somalis stream across the border into Kenya, at a rate of about 1,000 a day, they are frequently prey to armed bandits who rob men and rape women in the 50-mile stretch before they reach Dadaab, now the world’s largest refugee camp.
  • An explosion of new technologies and treatments for cancer coupled with a rapid rise in cases of the disease worldwide mean cancer care is rapidly becoming unaffordable in many developed countries, oncology experts said on Monday.

TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING – Twitter knows what you’re feeling!

Global Health News, Week of August 28-September 3

Global Fund round 11 is now open for proposals.

GREAT LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

A seven-part webinar series, called the “Outstanding Presentations Workshop,” began this Wednesday and is available for free to all who register. Each one-hour seminar will be streamed live over the next few weeks on Wednesday and will be recorded for later viewing.  Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to improve your presentations and spare your audiences death by PowerPoint. More information is available here, and the schedule can be accessed here.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • In Uganda, the landmark legal case of Jennifer Anguko, a mother who died while she was in labor for 12 hours in a government hospital, will begin in early September.
  • Critics of the World Health Organization say it needs to redefine and reposition itself within the increasingly complex and convoluted field of global health. These experts suggest that the world will not suffer if the WHO cuts certain programs while narrowing its focus.
  • In the United States, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are promoting the use of IUDs as the “most effective form of reversible contraception available and safe for most women.”
  • The Global Fund may cut its contributions to China by half.
  • USAID Admin Dr. Raj Shah announced that $23 million in new aid will be directed towards the Horn of Africa crisis.
  • Anonymity is no longer a right of people seeking HIV/AIDS tests in China, and the change has lead to a significant drop in the number of tests being performed.
  • The Asian Development Bank has called for Asia-Pacific countries to collaborate on combating HIV/AIDS at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Tension between the United States and Pakistan will not prevent USAID from continuing to support health, energy and education systems says the USAID Pakistan Chief.
  • The epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and cancers that have stricken the populaces of wealthy countries are spreading to the developing world, yet the United Nations lacks an agreement, let alone an overall goal, on how to limit the preventable illnesses and deaths arising from these so-called non-communicable diseases. The British Medical Journal reports many developed countries, including the U.S. and Canada, are resisting specific targets for reduction in fats, sugars and salt in processed foods.

PROGRAMS

  • Overall, more newborn children are surviving, but slower progress in cutting death rates among babies in the first weeks of life is putting the global goal of reducing child deaths by two-thirds in jeopardy.
  • One expert says as the question of aid effectiveness has moved to the centre of development debates. If donors want to make their aid more effective, then they need to engage strategically with the private sector.
  • In the Washington Post, Michael Gerson makes the “pro-life” case for increased support for contraception and family planning worldwide.
  • UNICEF and international NGOs are working to raise awareness and encourage West African communities to invest in the construction of more pit latrines. Pit latrines, say advocates, can drastically reduce the spread of diarrhea, cholera and worms.

RESEARCH

  • A study published in Lancet finds that the workers who took part in the efforts to rescue people from the World Trade Center on 9/11 are at a high risk of suffering physical and mental illness.
  • A study by the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation in Uganda and Zambia found high rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection among pregnant women, but showed that “integrating rapid syphilis screening and HIV testing for pregnant women was feasible, cost-effective, and helped to prevent transmission of syphilis and HIV from mother-to-child.”
  • A genetically engineered virus may be the key to combating cancer, says a group of scientists.
  • Believed to only help children under four, researchers have determined that the rotavirus vaccine also reduces deaths in children between the age of five and fourteen.
  • Researchers who have tracked Haitian cell phone SIM cards relative to the cholera outbreak are optimistic that their findings will lead to future use of the same technology for other outbreaks.
  • Scientists may have found a critical weakness in Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. Researchers say the discovery provides a promising target for new malaria therapies.
  • Engineers at Michigan State University are developing a low-cost mobile phone application that can detect certain types of cancer.
  • Danish scientists say mosquito populations are dropping in many parts of Africa, even in parts where there are no human efforts such as insecticide spraying or bed net distributions underway.
  • A study published in the British Medical Journal reports a 24% reduction in deaths in children who received vitamin A.
  • A new approach to malaria vaccines grows the parasite inside mosquitoes and extracts vaccine components from the salivary gland.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • A study published in Nature says that the last three waves of cholera can all be traced back to the Bay of Bengal.
  • Despite a massive humanitarian effort after the 2010 earthquake, females in Haiti remain neglected, rights activists say, lacking access to care as they give birth to babies in squalid conditions, often as a result of sex in trade for food or other necessities.
  • UN FAO warns that the bird flu is on the rise in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • Reports from the Libyan capital Tripoli say a humanitarian crisis appears to be emerging following the ouster of long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi. There is a shortage of medicine, fuel, food, water, and power supplies, and growing piles of uncollected garbage.
  • Polio has been reported in China and Kenya.

Thanks to Tom Murphy and Mark Leon Goldberg, Tom Paulson, Isobel Hoskins, and UN Wire.