News & Insights

Digital mHealth Solutions for Development

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have the power to facilitate access to the knowledge, skills and values people need to maintain good health. These technologies are essential in developing contexts, enabling a free flow of information as the world’s digital access grows.

Cardno’s international development teams have been employing ICT solutions in the developing world since the internet’s nascent years, and as of 2020 has delivered free, evidence-based, culturally appropriate and gender-responsive healthcare messages to more than 2 million people in Tanzania alone.

Throughout Africa, we have designed and launched mobile health (mHealth) applications, developed content and messaging in coordination with health ministries, and partnered with major mobile network operators to disseminate vital and timely health messaging. These activities have all taken place over the past decade, under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Private Partnerships in PEPFAR Countries (P4) Project.

Under P4, our international development teams utilise their ability to forge and manage public-private partnerships to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention, TB and cervical cancer care, and treatment efforts to improve health and wellbeing across Africa and Asia. Our teams manage and implement public-private partnerships, bringing together global leaders to innovate and improve public health outcomes.

In Tanzania, the project has worked with more than 50 partners to develop and deploy a number of mHealth digital solutions promoting infectious disease control, and maternal, newborn, and child health. Partnerships include the US and Tanzanian Governments, private sector actors, and mobile network providers.

Our mHealth solution delivers appointment reminders, pre- and postnatal care information to new and expectant mothers. The same technology also delivers tailored messaging to healthcare workers and clients’ supporters. Cardno’s user-centric approach to improving health outcomes looked at the problem from an end-user perspective – of those who would receive the messages – to create a digital solution that was fit for purpose in Tanzania.

The mHealth Tanzania Partnership enhances existing public health programs and leverages mobile technology infrastructure to improve health outcomes in Tanzania.

Cardno managed the project, providing stakeholders with a road-map to integrate and deploy a comprehensive digital solution. Our team brought together niche partners that specialise in clinical treatment, technology and content development, and contextualised communication strategies to enable a holistic approach to healthcare challenges.

Our team partnered with Rasello, a Tanzania-based ICT firm, to develop the mHealth platform. The technology collects patient information from relevant healthcare partners via API calls – a process whereby information is transferred, processed, and feedback is returned. User-specific communications are pushed to mobile devices via text messages – SMS short code and USSD extension. The utilisation of mHealth services by subscribers is monitored through real-time data analytics and machine learning for further targeted messaging.

The maternal and child health mHealth solution provides an agile mechanism that can be readily adapted and scaled to tackle other challenges. Recognising the need to help prevent and treat infectious diseases, Cardno and Rasello adopted the platform for additional digital health solutions. Since the initial launch, the platform is now also used to self-screen for tuberculosis (TB) and self-assess for HIV clients’ health status. Based on client responses, further targeted messages include information on prevention and testing, counselling, and doctor referrals.

Cardno’s strategic partnership with Rasello supports digital solutions for development. Rasello’s existing platforms provide communication, analytic and machine learning platforms, which have been deployed across multiple industries, including healthcare, e-governance and the private sector. Cardno provides support in defining requirements, developing proofs of concept, fine-tuning digital solutions and expanding Rasello’s geographic and client footprint. This collaboration builds upon more than four years of working together in Tanzania. Our teams are now exploring ways the mHealth platform can help address the COVID-19 crisis and inform future digital health solutions.

For further information contact:

Ophelia McMurray
Program Director and Principal at Cardno International Development