Dear mHealth Alliance friends and visitors to this site,
When the mHealth Alliance was launched, there were a handful of pioneers and organizations experimenting with the idea of how mobile technologies could improve the health of people in low- and middle- income countries. At the end of 2013, the mHealth Alliance celebrated its five-year anniversary and the collective achievements of a broad range of stakeholders and partnerships that have been forged since 2008. Over the past five years, the mHealth Alliance has provided a critical voice and served as a catalytic force for the mHealth field, resulting in significant progress in scaling up mHealth solutions and increasing knowledge and capacity within the global health and mHealth communities.
Earlier this year, the mHealth Alliance began exploring the option of transitioning its base of operations to South Africa to support a strategic focus on the growing need for country-level convening and capacity building in Africa and Asia. In parallel with this exploration, this spring the Alliance underwent an independent evaluation that aimed to assess the effectiveness of the organization and the state of the mHealth field, as well as to identify the role the Alliance ought to play in the future (view a summary of the evaluation here).
The evaluation findings showed that the Alliance's contributions to the field of mHealth are widely acknowledged as being significant. The Innovation Working Group mHealth Catalytic Grant program has provided 26 grants in 14 countries to support efforts aiming to reach over 31 million people. The Alliance produced over 20 publications and played a constructive role in incubating global initiatives and platforms that have since spun off in the form of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) and the m- and eHealth Expert Learning Program (mHELP). The Alliance facilitated the mainstreaming of mHealth into global health issues ranging from maternal, newborn, and child health to aging. More recently, the Alliance has pioneered work in Nigeria on the ICT for Saving One Million Lives initiative (ICT4SOML) in a way that is poised to make a significant contribution to the sector.
The evaluation also showed many partners are now leading and institutionalizing areas of work initially catalyzed by the Alliance, and these organizations are well-positioned and better equipped to carry this work forward. In many ways, this represents the Alliance's greatest achievement – it has helped enable other actors in the mHealth field to take on vital work streams and address key barriers.
Guided by the results of the evaluation, and after much internal discussion and consideration with the United Nations Foundation and the mHealth Alliance Partnership Board, a decision has been made to wind-down the mHealth Alliance instead of pursuing a transition to South Africa. The Alliance is already in the process of transferring key components of its work to able partners. Other Alliance programs, such as the IWG Catalytic mHealth Grants and ICT4SOML, will be absorbed into the UN Foundation's Global Health portfolio, where they will be well-served through strengthened connections to the Every Woman Every Child global movement. See more information about these programs and the UN Foundation's continuing commitment to mHealth here.
It has been a pleasure and honor for the mHealth Alliance to be part of this vibrant, global community for the past five years. Together, we have accomplished a great deal, and we should feel proud of our shared achievements. We look forward to supporting and working with partners to carry forward important pieces of the Alliance's work, and we are confident that we will see a smooth transition to this new model that relies on a broad group of partners to fill the role that the Alliance has been privileged to play.
Thank you for your support of the Alliance!
The mHealth Alliance team
Quotes from mHealth Alliance Partnership Board Members
Kathy Calvin, President & CEO, United Nations Foundation: It has been a distinct privilege to host the mHealth Alliance over the past five years and to have it as part of the UN Foundation family. The Alliance's work has played a vital role in the Foundation's global health efforts and has helped fuel progress on the Millennium Development Goals, particularly MDGs 4 and 5. Its legacy will be felt each day as we continue our commitment to advance mobile technology for health. We commend the mHealth Alliance team on their fine work, and particularly Patty Mechael for her leadership, and we look forward to carrying key pieces of this work forward.
Karl Brown, Associate Director of Applied Technology, Rockefeller Foundation: The mHealth Alliance has had an incredible journey, from its origins at the Bellagio meeting in 2008 to the celebration of its achievements over the course of five years at the 2013 mHealth Summit. I have been fortunate to serve as the Chair of the Partnership Board during some of that time and have been a first-hand witness to much of the excellent work that the Alliance has done. Above and beyond this, the Alliance has taught us valuable lessons about the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships and the power of true convening and collaboration. I have no doubt that the Alliance's impact will be felt for many years to come and its successes – and even its occasional failures – will inform the mHealth community and strengthen it.
Haitham El-noush, Senior Advisor, NORAD: I am very proud of the work done by the mHealth Alliance, which has demonstrated the power of mobile technology to actually improve the provision, access, quality, or use of highly needed maternal and child health services and has, as such, helped bring us closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on maternal and child health. Through advocacy and capacity building, the mHealth Alliance has contributed significantly to empowering the mHealth community, which is ready now to take forward the critical work the Alliance has begun. I consider this one of the Alliance's remarkable achievements.
Paul Ellingstad, Director of Global Health, HP: It has been a privilege to be part of the mHealth Alliance Partnership Board and to watch the progress that has been made in the field over the last five years. Although the Alliance will not be playing the same central role moving forward, it has created a legacy of numerous organizations – such as HP – that are eager to continue to engage in ICT for development projects and to carry on the work that the Alliance pioneered.
Andrew Dunnett, Director, Vodafone Foundation: The Vodafone Foundation was brought into the mHealth Alliance partnership via its long-standing relationship with the United Nations Foundation. But the importance and promise of mHealth quickly became clear, and the Alliance's influence has spurred the Vodafone Foundation to get increasingly involved in mHealth projects at the country level. We are proud of our affiliation with the Alliance and will continue to support the technology it championed and the lofty goals it set for mainstreaming mHealth in even the most remote corners of the globe.
Martha Newsome, Global Director, Health and Nutrition, World Vision: The mHealth Alliance has been a critical platform that has catalyzed grounded enthusiasm for the potential of mobile technology to systematically address global health challenges while simultaneously providing legitimacy to the fledgling field of mHealth. Without the mHealth Alliance’s strong leadership, I don’t know if World Vision would have had the guidance and foundational building blocks to commit to using mHealth as a tool to improve health outcomes throughout our programs in 16 countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia.