United Nations Foundation mHealth Alliance hopes to turn cell phones into medical lifesavers for mothers and infants during childbirth. Their service would provide a way to reach people in remote areas where medical care might not be as accessible.
“With mobile technologies for health, called ‘mhealth’ or ‘mobile health,’ we’re extending capabilities to where they don’t exist today,” says David Aylward, who heads mHealth Alliance.
The idea of using mobile phones to provide health care during traumatic situations is not a new one. Julian Schweitzer, former Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Care, says that mobile phones can not only be used to relay information such as appointment reminders, they can also help those in need. Using special services, mobile phones could be used to provide even laypeople of important protocols and information on how to handle emergencies during childbirth.
In isolated areas, midwives, nurses, and doctors can use their mobile phones as diagnostic devices. As the level of sophistication that cell phones have continues to grow, they could soon be able to link to other medical devices in order to offer complete care where they would not normally be any.
“In the near future, wireless diagnostics like stethoscopes, blood pressure, temperature and insulin monitors, and ultrasounds will enable remote diagnosis and treatment far from the closest doctor or clinic, ” said Aylward.
In rural areas and countries where care is not always available, this could become a way to offer medical interventions more easily. Currently, mHealth is working toward that goal. The company’s services allow doctors and patients to communicate and share information no matter where they may be. Being able to provide information during critical moments could help to greatly reduce the infant and maternal mortality rates in serious cases.
“We are talking about applying in health care the same kinds of sophisticated information systems that most businesses use, extending them with wireless to reach everyone. In low and middle- income countries we have the opportunity to leap frog the developed world and do it right. This is a huge opportunity,” said Schweitzer
-Summer, staff writer
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