Support only — mHealth is a tool, not an intervention

A health care worker in Rwanda gets visual instructions through a mobile phone. Mhealth itself is not an intervention, but a tool. Photo by: Ericsson / CC BY-NC-ND

As mHealth becomes increasingly integrated into global health strategies, it’s easier to consider it as an intervention along with vitamin fortification or breastfeeding.

But that’s not actually true, according to Garrett Mehl, a scientist with the World Health Organization.

“Mhealth itself, for the most part, isn’t an intervention,” he told Devex. “A medical intervention is something that is already validated. Mhealth is supplementing the ability of health systems to improve coverage or quality of services.”

For example, in reproductive, maternal and child health there are 56 proven medical interventions — and mHealth isn’t one of them.

Mobile health can however supplement interventions and strengthen their delivery, said Mehl.

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About the author

  • Saldiner adva

    Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.

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