Sexual and reproductive health

Launch of mHealth toolkit to help innovators scale up projects for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

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24 September 2015: WASHINGTON DC, USA. A new toolkit has been launched to help mHealth (mobile health) implementers to successfully and sustainably scale-up their innovations. Developed in partnership by WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP (RHR / HRP), the United Nations Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, the mHealth Assessment and Planning for Scale (MAPS) toolkit is a self-assessment tool that guides project teams when scaling up their innovations.

Aims of the toolkit

Infographic explaining the MAPS tool

The MAPS toolkit has two overarching goals – to assist and to plan. The toolkit assists mHealth project teams to critically assess their mHealth project as they move from piloting to planning their next steps for overcoming the challenges inherent in scaling up.

Background

The huge increase of mobile phone use worldwide has spurred an abundance of mHealth pilot projects around the world – innovative applications of mobile technologies are being used to bolster healthcare services and programs. Despite this heightened focus on digital innovations, there is a lack of practical and systematic guidance to strengthen projects attempting to scale-up their initiatives. Going beyond other resources on the subject, the MAPS toolkit provides crucial advice that is understandable and immediately useful.

How the toolkit works

The Toolkit guides mHealth projects through a continuous process of thorough assessment, careful planning, and targeted improvements. It lays out six overarching thematic areas designed to provide actionable information for project teams to consider and address diverse concerns relating to scaling up and sustainability of mHealth deployments.

These six areas, also known as axes, are: Groundwork, Partnerships, Financial health, Technology and architecture, Operations, and Monitoring and evaluation. Each of the six axes contains a set of structured self-administered questionnaires and scorecards that enable mHealth project teams to objectively measure their progress in relation to their vision for scaling up and ensuring sustainability. Each axes also includes tips and lessons from the field – all informed by the experiences of pioneering mHealth projects.

Close up of health worker using the tool on a mobile phone
HRP/Mark Leon

Development of MAPS

The MAPS Toolkit grew out of the efforts of the UN Innovation Work Group’s mHealth Catalytic Grant Mechanism – an initiative funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), which has seen the scale-up of 26 mHealth projects across 15 countries, with the aim of improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

The MAPS toolkit uses the experience and knowledge gathered through this process to answer growing concerns about the importance of scaling up and ensuring sustainability of mHealth products.

Innovations for change

Digital innovations will need to play an even greater role in meeting the commitments to improve the wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents globally

Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director General, and Kate Dodson, Vice President on the United Nations Foundation

Alongside the inauguration of the new UN Global Goals for sustainable development this September 2015, the world will see the launch of the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health – a 15 year roadmap for ending preventable deaths and improving the health of women, children and adolescents. Both the Global Goals and the new Global Strategy underline the importance of successful and sustainable innovation for improving the health and wellbeing of women, children and adolescents worldwide.

Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director General, and Kate Dodson, Vice President on the United Nations Foundation comment in the forward to the toolkit, “As we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, digital innovations will need to play an even greater role in meeting the commitments to improve the wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents globally.”