The United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Group Foundation’s Technology Partnership is hosting a conference session looking at how to unlock access to health data and improve healthcare in the developing world using mobile phones.

The session is being held as part of the month-long Rockefeller Foundation e-health conference series being held in Bellagio, Italy. “Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partners, Local Solutions,” the third week of the series, started this week.

The “mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine” session has gathered 25 private sector and public health leaders to explore the challenges, opportunities and way forward in building mHealth systems that can improve the access, efficiency and quality of health services in the developing world.

Claire Thwaites, head of the UN and Vodafone Technology Partnership, said: “As global trends such as climate change, the food crisis, and human migration place increasing strains on developing country health systems, there is an ever larger need for technological innovation to help strengthen international public health efforts.”

She added: “Developments in the field of mHealth in particular are creating a remarkable opportunity to bring about a sea change in healthcare delivery, even in the most resource-poor environments.”

Participants in the session include representatives of Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and Qualcomm, as well as the Earth Institute, Gates Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the UN World Health Organisation.

During the week-long conference, participants will examine the landscape of mHealth and mobile telemedicine. They will assess priority issues, and identify potential next steps for a multi-sector partnership dedicated to advancing mHealth programs in developing systems for the third world.

“Mobile phone use is exploding across the developing world, offering the opportunity to leapfrog other applications and services on both the health and technology fronts,” said Mitul Shah, senior director of technology at the United Nations Foundation.

“This collaborative effort with the Rockefeller Foundation and the other private sector and public health leaders assembled here this week opens the door for the kind of broader, public-private partnership that could bring us to a tipping point in addressing some of the most intractable public health challenges,” he added.

Currently, there are over 3.5 billion mobile phones in use across the globe; this figure is set to double in the next decade. The session aims to create a collective declaration of action and seed a multi-sector partnership dedicated to designing, funding, and advancing mobile service projects in the Global South region.


Rockefeller Foundation’s eHealth Connection

UN Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership