About mHealth4Afrika

Child mortality and maternal health are long standing challenges in Developing Country contexts. WHO reports that "6.3 million children under the age of five died in 2013" and "99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries ... and the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries in 2013 is [an average of] 230 per 100,000 live births versus 16 per 100,000 live births in developed countries". This explains why two of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG 5 - Improve Maternal Health, MDG 4 - Reduce Child Mortality) were focused on these areas and why Maternal Healthcare remains a priority area in Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

mHealth4Afrika is a three year collaborative Research and Innovation project co-funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020 (Grant Agreement No: 688015). It addresses maternal and newborn healthcare delivery, a key requirement of end-user communities in developing countries, and priority area in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Aligned with Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges, mHealth4Afrika will research and evaluate the potential impact of co-designing an open source, multilingual mHealth platform on the quality of community based maternal and Newborn healthcare delivery in Southern Africa (Malawi, South Africa), East Africa (Kenya) and Horn of Africa (Ethiopia).0 live births in developed countries". This explains why two of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG 5 - Improve Maternal Health, MDG 4 - Reduce Child Mortality) were focused on these areas and why Maternal Healthcare remains a priority area in Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Research and Innovation actors from three European and four African countries will engage with local end-user communities (i.e. representatives of parents and local community leaders, Ministry of Health, healthcare professionals and volunteers, health oriented NGOs). mHealth4Afrika will leverage a User-centred Design, Living Labs and Collaborative Open Innovation based approach.

There is a growing healthcare crisis in developing countries. According to a WHO/Global Health Workforce Alliance report (2013), based on a minimum density threshold of 34.5 skilled health workers per 10,000 population, Africa has a current deficit of 1.8 million skilled health workers (25% of global total). Based on expected population growth by 2035, this could grow to a deficit of 4.3 million - 34% of global total (p.36). WHO (2013, p.30)  highlighted "wide variation in availability and accessibility persists within countries because of attraction and retention difficulties”.

As healthcare professionals with higher levels of professional training are more likely to be found in major population centres, the rationale of leveraging technology to increase access to quality healthcare in rural and deprived urban areas is clear. Despite this, the WHO 2011 report  noted that "Countries in the African Region reported the fewest [mHealth] initiatives” based on their survey.

mHealth4Afrika will research and implement the integration and adaptation of

  • Multilingual electronic health records to store patient history, associated tests and test results;
  • sensors to capture the results of a range of standardised tests for expectant mothers, unborn babies, infants and lactating mothers;
  • analytical and visualisation tools to facilitate the interpretation and monitoring of the patient results; and 
  • multi-lingual and multimodal interface leveraging visualisation and speech synthesis to address literacy deficits and digitising data gathering through electronic forms

into a framework supporting quality maternal and newborn healthcare delivery in clinics across Africa.

Based on needs requirements undertaken with healthcare workers in beneficiary healthcare clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa, the following clinical measurements will initially be integrated into the patient record system: