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Innovative use of mobile technology by FHI 360 project receives international recognition

May 26, 2015

Durham, NC — FHI 360’s lifesaving Mobile Health Information System (MHIS) project, implemented in several previously underserved areas of South Africa with funding from Qualcomm Wireless Reach™ and the Henry E. Niles Foundation, has been awarded the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland. The prize recognizes outstanding and innovative achievements in building an inclusive information society.

Innovative use of mobile technology by FHI 360 project receives international recognitionThe MHIS project enables health practitioners in both rural and urban communities to access a mobile health library, containing treatment guidelines, lists of recommended drugs and diagnostic tools, on their smartphones and tablets at the point of care. Using a mobile library portal developed by a team of FHI 360 experts, clinical and public health information is downloaded directly to mobile devices.

“In order to make sound clinical decisions and improve patient care, it is critical that health care workers have access to current and relevant health information presented in language and format appropriate to their education and experience,” said FHI 360’s Berhane Gebru, Director of Programs, TechLab. “We are proud that our project makes it possible for many providers, particularly in rural areas in South Africa, to gain access to lifesaving information and clinical content for patient management. This award is a testimony to our shared commitment to delivering innovative, holistic solutions to the most complex development challenges of the 21st century.”

A public–private partnership developed by FHI 360, the MHIS project has brought together government, nonprofit organizations, private-sector corporations and academic institutions to improve health care delivery in South Africa. Inaugurated in 2008, the project supported 175 nurses and physicians in three hospital complexes in East London, Mthatha and Port Elizabeth; five district hospitals; and ten rural community health centers. According to MHIS’s survey of participating health care providers, more than 80 percent of practitioners indicated that accessing information at the point of care assisted them in making accurate diagnoses and helped reduce patient mortality, while more than 90 percent felt that it was useful in prescribing the correct treatment for their patients.

Based on the success of its initial deployment, the Eastern Cape Department of Health is expanding the MHIS project throughout the province of Eastern Cape to include more than 20,000 clinicians.

In Geneva, more than 1,700 attendees gathered at the annual WSIS forum. Co-organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and several United Nations agencies, the forum is an effective mechanism for coordinating multistakeholder implementation activities, information exchange, creation of knowledge and shared best practices. 

Photo caption: Right to left: Berhane Gebru, Director of Programs, TechLab, FHI 360, with Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Photo credit: International Telecommunications Union (ITU).