Pushing the Frontier: The role of mHealth

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The mHealth Alliance and Stop TB Partnership have released a comprehensive report that advocates for the use of mobile phone technology to improve the reach and quality of TB care.  The publication illustrates several successful examples of mHealth projects that are advancing TB care, including those supported by the Partnership's TB REACH initiative. 

Although hundreds of mHealth projects exist, only a few have been implemented at scale. The paper, Pushing the Frontier: The Role of mHealth in the Fight Against Tuberculosis, calls for the wider adoption of mHealth in combating the global TB epidemic.

“There are an estimated 3 million people every year who we collectively fail to reach with diagnosis, treatment and heath care,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Stop TB's Executive Secretary. “Approaches pioneered through TB REACH show clearly that in TB, mHealth is a cheap and effective way of getting previously unreached people tested and treated.” 

The paper offers four recommendations:

Gather more evidence on which mHealth applications work best for TB care

Ensure that mHealth partnerships play on the strengths of a wide variety of stakeholders, from private companies to government departments

Design mHealth projects that respond directly to the needs of healthcare providers and patients rather than to the desires of technology companies

Tailor mHealth projects to local needs (e.g. audio messages may be more appropriate in areas of low levels of literacy)

TB diagnosis still relies heavily on 19th century x-ray technology; with mHealth, there is now an opportunity to leverage modern digital technology to address an age-old problem. Mobile phone technology has been shown to accelerate diagnosis, help patients complete treatment, and increase awareness about the disease. mHealth is practical, sustainable, and cost-effective. 

Summary from GBC Health