Carolien Albers is Pathfinder International’s Chief of Party for the Family Planning Initiative Project, Mozambique.
The rapid rise in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health programs, or eHealth, is transforming our ability to implement effective and efficient public health programs, ensuring those most in need have access to essential reproductive health services. Pathfinder believes integrating technology solutions can improve the quality of health services and systems, reach more clients with behavior change interventions and streamline data collection and use. Nearly 87 percent of the global population has access to a mobile cellular subscription with 79 percent of those in low and middle income countries.
The rapid rise in the use of eHealth is transforming our ability to implement effective and efficient public health programs, ensuring those most in need have access to essential reproductive health services.As a result, the use of mobile phones for health (mHealth) is growing rapidly to supplement traditional public health programs. Pathfinder is leveraging the power and proliferation of mobile phones to increase access to high quality sexual and reproductive health services and empower and enable clients to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
In order to do so, Pathfinder provides technical assistance to local partners and governments to make informed choices about when it is appropriate to integrate technology and promote sustainability and scalability during design and implementation. In addition to using mobile tools such as SMS, decision support and data collection applications, Pathfinder is also a leader in using mobile money to facilitate efficient and safe financial transactions supporting for the clients and health workers we support.
The successful integration of technology into Pathfinder sexual and reproductive health programs relies on:
- Carefully understanding the gap or challenge where technology can have added value and complement our projects
- Engaging the end user in the development of technology solutions and grounding the implementation in our Integrated System Stengthening approach
- Engaging public, private and academic partners in the design and implementation of projects to promote sustainability
- Moving beyond pilots by designing for scale from project inception and taking existing projects to scale
- Ensuring the incorporation of evidence based practices and generating evidence of the value added and impact of integrating mobile technology
- Grounded understanding the unique needs of young people and women to reach some of the most vulnerable with technology based innovations
Evidence to Action for Strengthened Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services for Women and Girls (E2A)
The Evidence to Action Project (E2A) is USAID’s global flagship for strengthening family planning and reproductive health service delivery.
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Pathfinder's 2011 Annual Report, "Breaking Down Barriers," looks at the obstacles people face in accessing sexual and reproductive health care and what Pathfinder has done in the past year to break these barriers down.
If you especially care about supporting organizations that are helping to advance mHealth, consider using the power of your generosity on #GivingTuesday to support one or more of the fantastic organizations that the mHealth Alliance has funded through our Innovation Working Group catalytic grants program. The programs we support through the IWG grants aim to improve maternal, newborn and child health through the use of mobile technology.
Yesterday, at the International Conference on Family Planning, which is being held in Addis Ababa from 12-15 November, Pathfinder International’s technical advisor Cllie Simon said young people themselves helped identify the major barriers they face in accessing contraception. The organisation then designed two distinct mCeans! messages: one for those who are parenting and one for those who are not. Simon said: “We did it with the youth, by the youth, and for the youth.”
Pathfinder International, for example, has taken advantage of the mobile phones’ popularity in Mozambique to reach out to young people. The organisation has introduced mCenas!, which means mobile scenes, the country’s first-ever youth-centric text messaging campaign. It delivers information and stories about sex and contraception to young people at the touch of a button.