Country of Operation
- CDC FoundationNot-for-profit
- Ministries of Health in Kenya and TanzaniaGovernment
Target income level
- Bottom 20%
- Lower-middle income (20-40%)
- Middle-income (40-60%)
SummaryThe Phones-for-Health project is a public-private partnership that uses mobile phones to enter medical data to allow governments to respond quickly to epidemics and help patients receive medical treatment faster.
In the developing world, fixed-line Internet connections are rare, as paper forms are still the primary way of recording health data. But now, in countries like Tanzania, 97% of the population reports that they can access a mobile phone. This public-private partnership works closely with Ministries of Health and global health organizations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health management and information systems for health services.
Key program components
Phones-for-Health leverages the existing mobile phone infrastructure so partner countries can extend the reach of their health information networks to remote areas. Mobile phones use software to relay patient data to a central computer system, allowing health workers and policymakers to instantly access the data. The system allows health workers in the field to use a standard Motorola handset equipped with a downloadable application, as well as PCs and PDAs, to enter health data. Once entered, the data is transferred via a packet based mobile connection (GPRS) into a central database. If GPRS isn’t available, the software can use a SMS data channel to transmit the information. The data is then mapped and analyzed by the system, and is immediately available to health authorities at multiple levels via the web. The system also supports SMS alerting and other tools for communication with field staff. Health workers will also be able to use the system to order medicine, send alerts, download treatment guidelines, training materials and access other appropriate information. Managers at the regional and national level can access information in real-time via a web based database. Phones-for-Health is proving to be a cost-effective means for data collection and information dissemination—both critical to facilitating rapid interventions for at-risk patients through education and treatment programs. It is also a platform easily expanded to surveillance of other diseases, such as malaria and avian influenza. Country-level Ministries of Health and Social Welfare are exploring ways to expand the utility of the mobile platform to enhance data reporting and evidence-based decision-making. Initially implemented in Rwanda, the project aims to expand to 10 other African countries after 2010.