A review on mHealth research in developing countries

Wallace Chigona, Mphatso Nyemba, Andile Metfula


Governments and development agencies are advocating mobile technology as a potential tool for developing and improving livelihoods, especially in developing countries where traditional technologies have failed to gain ground for wide ranging reasons. It is, therefore, understandable that the use of mobile technology in health care (mHealth) is growing in developing countries. Healthcare is one of the challenges facing developing countries, with the majority of the countries still lagging behind in most of the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (Goals 4, 5 and 6). Due to the nascence of the domain, research in the domain is still in its infancy and, as such, there is little evidence to support the claims about the impact of the technology. The aim of this paper is to analyse the progress of mHealth as well as the progress of the research in the domain in developing countries. Data for the study are mHealth papers presented at the Third Mobile for Development (M4D) Conference which took place in India between 28th and 29th February 2012. The review notes the following about research in mHealth in developing countries: (i) Most interventions are patient-facing; this provides opportunities for using mHealth to empower the public; (ii) The interventions use a growing range of technological solutions; (iii) Most research still focuses on pilot projects as opposed to scaled-up projects and (iv) Research in the domain still lacks rigour.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441