By Andrea Fletcher, Lead Data Strategist

Chances are if you aren’t reading this on your mobile phone, you at least have one within reach. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous and are changing the way we do everything from banking to healthcare. This is true globally and even more pronounced in countries such as Malawi, where the uptake of smart phones skyrocketed in the past few years and now 85% of households have access to a mobile phone. It’s therefore not surprising that the Malawian healthcare industry is seeing a large influx of mobile projects as a means of reaching the population for healthcare delivery, data collection, and supervision.

Over the past few months, Cooper/Smith worked with Malawi’s Ministry of Health and Population to register the numerous mHealth projects deployed in the country by various development partners. The analysis kicked off with a memo from the Secretary for Health requiring all projects to register, which allowed us to identify and gather information on 31 mHealth projects. The 2018 mHealth Landscape Analysis provides aggregate information regarding the scale of projects, health domains, alignment with national strategies, and budgetary information.

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mHealth projects in Malawi have existed since at least 2007, with an average of 2 new projects coming online each year. The average lifespan of a mHealth project is 5 years. 2016 was the most active year for new projects with 7 new projects coming online. As of March of 2018, there were 22 live mHealth projects.

With so many active projects, the report provides a foundation for decision-makers to better understand the role of mHealth in the National Health Information System and coordinate the efforts of partners. It is already being used to provide recommendations for the development of the new National eHealth Strategy and is a valuable tool for communicating with stakeholders on the successes and challenges with mHealth deployments. Some key questions we’ve been asking based on the results of the landscape analysis include:

  • How do we do a better job of coordinating mHealth in Malawi?
  • How do we minimize duplication of efforts among partners?
  • Where should we invest mHealth resources to see the most impact?
  • What standards are necessary to achieve integrated service delivery at community level with mHealth?

Enjoy reading! And stay tuned for the results of the technical deep dive report from the Kuunika Project, where we go under the hood of several mHealth projects!

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