.Focus on: mHealth

Innovations in information and communications technology (ICT) are changing the landscape of disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control. The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of mobile phones for health (mHealth).

IFPMA member companies and associations recognize the important role mobile applications have played in the attainment of health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the continued opportunities for mHealth in health partnerships of the post-2015 agenda. 

A number of health partnerships use mobile technology to deliver health promotion messages, survey epidemics and help countries combat global health challenges. A number of health partnerships use mobile technology to deliver health promotion messages, survey epidemics and help countries combat global health challenges. Copyright IFPMA

mHealth today

Mobiles are the most rapidly adopted technology in the world. According to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals report of the United Nations, as of 2015, 95% of the world is covered by a mobile signal and mobile-cellular subscriptions have grown almost tenfold in the last 15 years, from 738 million in 2000 to over 7 billion. Mobile broadband has overcome infrastructure challenges and smartphones are becoming cheaper, enabling more areas to connect to the Internet.

From data collection in the face of acute epidemics to remote training of healthcare workers to chronic disease management, a mobile phone in the hand of each person is making a huge impact on global health.

Doing our part – the research-based pharmaceutical industry and mHealth 

IFPMA member companies and associations are active in a number of health partnerships that make use of pioneering mHealth technology.

In maternal health and primary healthcare, mHealth delivers vital information to nurses, midwives and new and expectant mothers, and helps boost immunization rates. Examples of this include the Sanofi platforms Connecting Nurses and Connecting Midwives, which allow for the online exchange of information, advice and innovations from primary healthcare providers around the world. The mVaccination partnership, of which GlaxoSmithKline is a partner, sees healthcare workers using SMS notifications to remind mothers of vaccination appointments and track regional vaccination rates.

mHealth can also support primary healthcare system strengthening by providing a real-time means for clinics and hospitals to report on medicine shortages, through programs like Novartis’ SMS for Life, as well as accurate and cost-effective methods of combating the influx of fake medicines into local hospitals and pharmacies—see Fight the Fakes campaign. 

But mHealth may hold its greatest promise in the global response to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are the leading cause of death worldwide and dominate healthcare needs and expenditure; yet 50% of premature deaths from NCDs could be prevented through timely screenings and promotion of healthy behaviours such as eating a balanced diet, being physically active, not smoking or drinking alcohol in excess. While most high-income countries have integrated NCDs into public health policies for a number of years, significant gaps remain in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A number of health partnerships are therefore using mobile technology to deliver health promotion messages on the NCD risk factors, survey the epidemic and help countries implement national laws on NCDs. Such partnerships include Be He@lthy, Be Mobile, an initiative of International Telecommunication Union, World Health Organization (WHO), NCD Alliance, IFPMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Novartis and other partners, to support traditional NCDs prevention and control work. IFPMA has also worked with the World Health Progressions Alliance (WHPA) to develop a Health Improvement Card to alert people at risk of NCDs. 

You can learn more about these programs and many others by following the link “mHealth” under Partnership Information to the right.

Join in online conversations using the hashtags #mHealth and #healthpartnerships on social media. 

More information can be found here:

Partnership information

Therapeutic Focus Other

Disease(s) General Health

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - mHealth

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, North America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 198

Country(ies) Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong-Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2010

Anticipated completion date Ongoing