Mobile solutions to curb NCDs

Cellphone. A new partnership between two U.N. agencies aims to further tap the potential of mobile technologies to help combat noncommunicable diseases. Photo by: Erik (HASH) Hersman

A new partnership between two U.N. agencies aims to further tap the potential of mobile technologies to help combat noncommunicable diseases.

The m-Health Initiative is a joint effort of the International Telecommunication Union and the World Health Organization to explore ways to use text messaging and mobile apps to support the prevention and treatment of cancer, diabetes and other NCDs.

This partnership is in line with the United Nations’ commitment to boost efforts to reduce the number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases, which are some of the leading causes of deaths around the world. It’s also on trend with the international community’s increasing interest in m-Health interventions.

The initiative will focus mainly on providing technical assistance to m-Health interventions for the diseases. On a global level, WHO and ITU will help develop standard operating procedures for m-Health interventions. On the national level, the initiative will work together with governments to scale up operational projects.

WHO already has ongoing m-Health projects for noncommunicable diseases. The Global Adult Tobacco Surveillance System, for instance, uses cellphones to monitor tobacco use in 17 countries. WHO and ITU are also currently testing mobile solutions to help people with NCDs eat healthier and to help people quit tobacco use, among other similar interventions.

These ongoing projects are expected to inform the new initiative, which will initially run for four years. Details on the initiative’s focus countries and its overall budget are not yet available.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.