mHealth grants seek to reach 4.5 million people in Africa, Asia

Ten mHealth projects in eight countries across Africa and Asia were awarded grants, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and administered in partnership with the World Health Organization Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, to improve the reproductive, maternal and child health of 4.5 million people, according to an announcement from the mHealth Alliance.

The awards are the third round of "catalytic grant winners" provided through the Innovation Working Group (IWG) in support of the "Every Woman, Every Child" movement, launched in 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which calls for implementing mHealth to improve the lives of mothers and children in developing countries.

"This assistance helps guide grantees through critical, yet challenging, processes along the path to scaling up," states the announcement. "During the two-year grant period, grant winners will have the opportunity to not only receive technical assistance but also to collaborate and share lessons learned with each other and the previous rounds of grantees. The shared learning will, in turn, contribute to the global mHealth community's understanding of best practices for scaling up mHealth."

In its third year, the goal of the overall IWG catalytic grant program is to reach nearly 31 million people spread across communities in 14 countries with lifesaving messaging and services. The latest round of grants support global efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health) and 6 (reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis).

Norad is responsible for the project management of the IWG. For its part, HRP leads work on mHealth evidence generation and synthesis related to Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (RMNCH), and is the secretariat for the WHO Technical and Evidence Review Group on mHealth for RMNCH.

To empower women and improve RMNCH in low-income countries, the mHealth Alliance in May released a Gender Analytical Framework to help mobile healthcare implementers better understand the implications of gender issues for their mHealth projects. According to the mHealth Alliance, research shows that many women's health problems in low-income countries, such as maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, are directly linked to gender inequity. In addition, while women are commonly the beneficiaries of mHealth projects, the organization argues that women are rarely equal participants in the development of mHealth interventions.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- watch the mHealth Alliance video