With 379 million mobile subscriptions and over half of the population in African countries currently using mobile phones, is there a unique opportunity to leverage the mobile phone platform to revolutionize delivery of health care across the continent? This will be the focus of the Mobile Health Africa Summit, being convened on December 2, 2010 in Accra, Ghana.
Prior to this year’s event, the World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit in Washington D.C. last year brought the consensus that mHealth had great potentials, especially in developing countries. Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region noted that Nigeria alone had 250 millon mobile phones, compared to only 250,000 fixed phone lines seven years earlier. She pleaded that “Africa can’t let this unique possibility in mHealth and ICTs offer pass by”.
Some experts have projected that harnessing the full potential of mobile technology will allow delivery of heath care to entire populations at less than 25% the cost of traditional delivery models. Areas of the health delivery system in which mobile devices can have a huge impact include the collection of clinical and community health data,monitoring patient vitals signs in real-time, augmenting the direct provision of care by linking health care workers to patients, delivering healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, and addressing supply chain management problems.
The mHealth Africa Summit will feature, among others, an interactive panel on deploying m-health applications across several countries, a cross-sector panel discussion on overcoming challenges in mobile health, and another on leveraging mobile technology to bring health care to the masses.
Speakers will include Dr. Fiemu Nwariaku, President of ANPA and Associate Dean for Global Health at the University of Texas-Southwestern; Dr. Egbe Osifo-Dawodu, who was an Adviser to the World Bank for many years and recently joined the Anadach Group as Founding Partner; and Dr. Mohamed Pate, CEO of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Nigeria.