Connecting to a Healthy Future (Updated January 2009)


In a cutting-edge $10 million public-private partnership, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the GSM Association Development Fund, Accenture Development Partners, Motorola, MTN and Voxiva will leverage technology to connect health systems in 10 PEPFAR-supported countries by 2010. This partnership will help address the need for a health care infrastructure to adequately address the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Phones-for-Health will make timely, relevant information available to program managers and service providers, while also helping PEPFAR achieve its ambitious goals — to support treatment for 2 million HIV-infected people, support prevention of 7 million new infections, and support care for 10 million people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in an accountable and sustainable way.

By working in close collaboration with Ministries of Health and global health organizations, this partnership will develop an integrated set of standard information solutions that support the scale-up of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other infectious disease programs in a cost-effective manner that builds local capacity.

The Benefits of Mobile Phone Technology

  • Worldwide, cellular technologies have demonstrated the incredible power of communication as an agent for social change. The Phones-for-Health alliance will utilize that power by extending the ability of Ministries of Health to create national health information networks that reach all communities.
  • By bringing together the existing mobile phone infrastructure in the developing world, countries can extend the span of health information networks to reach the vast majority of their populations, even in remote areas.
  • With Phones-for-Health, health workers in the field can use software on their mobile phones to submit critical health information directly into central computer systems, allowing health officials and service providers to view, analyze and respond to this vital data immediately.

How will Phones-for-Health enable the Emergency Plan to support those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS?

In the developing world, fixed-line Internet connections are rare and paper forms are still the primary way of recording the spread of infectious diseases. But more than 60 percent of the population now lives in areas with mobile phone coverage and the GSM Association Development Fund expects that figure to rise to 85 percent by 2010. This makes it feasible to use mobile phones to relay information directly to health authorities’ computer systems, enabling rapid interventions such as distribution of medication and education programs for those at risk.

Accessible Health Information

  • Timely and complete programmatic data is a key part of successful planning and resource allocation. Currently, it is difficult to acquire data from smaller health care facilities and community-based organizations. Cellular technologies can provide a cost-effective means for both data collection and information dissemination at the local level.
  • Capacity for information management and use is limited at all levels of national health systems in the developing world. A system that provides simple methods of querying information at all levels of the system will help create a “culture of information seeking” and greater capacity for data-driven decision making.

Effective Two-Way Communication

  • Providing information to community-based care providers and affected individuals is a key challenge when determining if more specialized care is necessary and where it might be available. Effective, two-way communication creates both a referral network and an education channel that can be used to facilitate health care decisions.

How does “Phones-for-Health” Work?

“Phones for Health” is building on the work of the GSM Association Development Fund, Voxiva, Motorola and the U.S. Government to pilot mobile-phone based solutions for HIV/AIDS care and treatment in PEPFAR-supported countries.

  • The system allows health workers to report data from the field using their mobile phones, as well as PCs and PDAs.
  • Once entered, the data is mapped and analyzed by the system and made immediately available to health authorities at multiple levels via the web.
  • The system also supports SMS (text messaging) alerting and notification and tools for communication and coordination with field staff.

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