The International Telecommunication Union, which is an agency of the United Nations, and the World Health Organization have launched a new partnership to promote the use of mobile technology to combat certain diseases. The m-health initiative will focus on using text messaging and mobile apps to help fight non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and respiratory diseases. It’s been announced at this year’s ITU Telecom World in Dubai.
Non-communicable diseases - those diseases that can’t be transmitted between people - are said to dominate health care needs in most low, middle-income countries and developed. Almost two-thirds of all deaths are believed to involve non-communicable diseases, including 14 million people dying between the ages of 30 to 70.
The new initiative will see the ITU and WHO providing guidance that encourages governments and other partners worldwide to use m-health in preventing and treating non-communicable diseases. It’ll build on current projects, health systems and platforms involving governments, non-government organisations and the private sector.
mHealth could be used to help people stop smoking, to encourage healthy eating and to assist patients already affected by non-communicable diseases.
Dr Hamadoun I Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, said “Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control. The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health. By joining forces, ITU and WHO will fight against debilitating non-communicable diseases that can be controlled through the intervention of m-Health solutions and services that are at once cost effective, scalable and sustainable. In doing so, we will help end a scourge that hinders economic growth and development around the world.”
The ITU/WHO m-Health initiative will run initially for four years.