Sexual and reproductive health

Use of mobile technology for health (mHealth)

Touch screen mobile phone being used by a healthcare provider
HRP/Mark Leong

The use of mHealth has emerged as an important innovation with tremendous potential to strengthen health systems in low- and middle-income settings, through improved access to knowledge and information, by improving service delivery and reducing response time to crises.

WHO mHealth Technical and Evidence Review Group (mTERG) for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health

The WHO mTERG represents a WHO-convened group of recognized global experts at the intersection of mHealth, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, across research and programme implementation foci. Through a transparent process of discussions, research review and systematic evaluation, the mTERG works to establish methodologies and build consensus recommendations to enable the identification of mHealth strategies for which there is substantial evidence of health system value.

The mTERG is comprised of experts representing ministries of health, academic and research institutions, implementing organizations, and professional associations.

The potential of mHealth strategies to address shortfalls in health systems is driving demand and heightening expectations. Governments and donors have recognized this potential and are beginning to invest considerable resources in mHealth, even in the absence of high- quality evidence and information regarding the optimal implementation and integration of specific strategies.

Decision-makers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are also faced with an increasingly confusing diversity of mHealth tools and systems, and a lack of guidance on how to select appropriate components from these choices, based on a problem or needs-based approach. Furthermore, guidance on the appropriate ‘systems approach’ to integrating these novel strategies into existing health systems is lacking. There is considerable demand from ministries of health, donors, and decision-makers for evidence-based guidance on which mHealth solutions should be adopted to strengthen specific health system needs across the continuum of care, particularly in relation to the goals inherent in the MDGs, and consistent with the UN Secretary General’s Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.

The goal of mTERG is to extend WHO and partners’ continuing work in leveraging mHealth in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals, especially related to RMNCH, by fostering and facilitating improved evidence generation and knowledge synthesis. The mTERG will also lead the development of guidance and best practices related to the use of mHealth innovations for health systems strengthening, aimed at decision-makers and implementers.

Photo of the mTERG group

WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research serves as secretariat for mTERG.