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Effective and needed, but not used: Why do mobile phone-based health interventions in Africa not move beyond the project status?

Stephani V
Working Papers in Health Policy and Management Vol. 13, 2019, Berlin: Universitätsverlag der Technischen Universität Berlin


Reviews have shown that mobile phone-based health interventions (mHealth interventions) are capable of improving health outcomes of patients in Africa, particularly for patients with chronic diseases such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). But currently, most mHealth interventions are stopped after the pilot and the funding of the donors has ceased. The aim is to identify the reasons for the lacking integration of mHealth interventions against NCDs in sub Saharan African health systems.
10 countries from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) were selected for the analysis. For the assessment a catalogue of indicators was developed. Data for the indicators was gathered from various sources: databases, literature reviews and expert interviews.
mHealth against NCDs is still in its infancy. Inhibiting factors for the further uptake of mHealth are the lack of specific action points by the governments, the missing attention paid to the rising burden of NCDs, the non-utilization of the full potential of mHealth, the lack of financial incentives and standardized workshops/guidelines and lack of good governance. The access to mobile phones is also inhibited by the poor electricity infrastructure.
Enabling factors in many countries are numerous published eHealth strategies, constantly improving legislative frameworks (such as data protection laws) and a growing technology start-up ecosystem.

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