Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ericsson, UN team up on mobile health

Ericsson has joined hands with the United Nations Office for Partnerships to use telecommunications to bring mobile-health applications and services (m-health) and telemedicine in rural Africa.

Manager, Marketing and Communications, Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi Jnr, while disclosing this, weekend, said that as a founding member of the UN’s Digital Health Initiative (DHI), Ericsson is taking another step in its ongoing commitment to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which aim to reduce global extreme poverty.

The Digital Health Initiative (DHI) is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that works to create innovative models for the development and delivery of global health to millions in developing countries.

This, would be critical to help achieve those MDGs that are related to health, which specifically address the need to tackle diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious and communicable diseases, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health.

He said that the MDG named “Develop a global partnership for development” also points out the vital role that the private sector could play, especially in terms of information and communication technology, in meeting the other goals.

Mobile communications, he noted have proved to make a positive difference to people in developing countries, enabling cost-effective access to basic services, such as health, particularly in rural areas where there is little or no infrastructure.

A key goal of the DHI, he said, is to confront the diseases of poverty more efficiently and effectively. Engaging the private sector is seen as critical to reaching this goal. Mobile communications in particular can empower individuals, communities, health workers and health institutions to streamline knowledge capture, collection and communication in the field of health.

According to him, as the leading telecom provider, Ericsson would use its expertise to spearhead the initiative’s technology stream, and will explore the use of mobile communications to deliver telemedicine to rural communities, to help to improve access to and delivery of emergency and general health services, assist with disease surveillance and control, enhance the collection of basic health data such as birth and death registration, and deliver mobile learning to health workers in remote areas.

He pointed out that Ericsson’s experience in India and Bangladesh showed that even people with an average income of USD 1.25 per day could have access to medical care with the help of mobile connectivity.

Sowunmi in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online quoted the Ericsson President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg, as saying “Telecommunications play a vital role in facilitating access to health services, which help end the cycle of poverty and empower communities to improve their own social and economic situations. This initiative reflects Ericsson’s ongoing commitment to harnessing our technical leadership to develop sustainable business models that bridge the digital, and health, divides.”

Also, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships, Amir Dossal, said they believe the DHI will form the basis of a strategic framework for new model partnerships across the ICT, pharmaceutical and health-technology sectors with a view to concrete deliverables in the accelerated delivery of the health-related MDGs.

“In this regard, the United Nations sees Ericsson as a core strategic partner in the emerging field of digital health for development,” Dossal said.

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