Noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors

Scaling up digital health

Be He@lthy, Be Mobile

Digital technology can be a powerful way of expanding access to health information and services.

The rapid spread of digital devices such as mobiles over the past few years has created a network of access for people outside current health services. 95% of the world lives in an area covered by mobile network, and there are over 7 billion mobile subscription in the world – one for almost every person on the planet. There is evidence that using mobiles as a channel for health can support NCD prevention and management. However, there are few examples of how to design, build and sustain these services at a national scale.

In 2012, WHO and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) founded a joint program to provide guidance. The initiative, Be He@lthy, Be Mobile, helps governments create safe, sustainable programs which deliver the benefits of mHealth at scale.

The initiative aims to standardize the design and deployment of mHealth programs based on best practices. It does this by developing global handbooks containing technical and operational guidance on how to create mHealth services for a specific diseases or behaviours. It then helps countries tailor the content for use in a local setting, launch the service, and evaluate the results.

To ensure that programs are sustainable and that they support existing health services, all programs are owned by the government. This also builds national capacity to develop additional mHealth services for other diseases, strengthening the health system more broadly