New Innovation Grantees Aim to Reach 4.5 Million People with Mobile Health Services for Improving Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health

This press release originally appeared on here. Reposted with permission.

The mHealth Alliance and Norad award a third round of catalytic grants to 10 organizations in 8 countries in support of Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6

New York City (September 24, 2013) – The mHealth Alliance and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) today announced the third round winners of catalytic grants provided through the Innovation Working Group (IWG), in support of the Every Woman, Every Child movement. These grants, funded by Norad and administered in partnership with the World Health Organization Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (WHO, HRP), aim to assist mobile health projects in moving beyond the pilot phase to achieve scale.

A total of 10 mHealth projects in countries across Africa and Asia were selected to receive grants this year. The 2013 grant winners join an impressive collection of organizations supported by IWG catalytic grants for the purpose of implementing mHealth to improve the lives of mothers and children in developing countries. Collectively, the three rounds of IWG grantees aspire to reach nearly 31 million people spread across communities in 14 countries with lifesaving messaging and services. This year, for the first time, two of the grant winners are implementing projects focused specifically on reproductive health.

“In 2013 we received more qualified, promising proposals than ever before, and we are delighted to be awarding grants to 10 recipients, two more than in previous years,” said Helga Fogstad, head of Global Health section at Norad. “This is a reflection of the momentum of mHealth for maternal and child health around the world, and Norad is committed to helping further this momentum by supporting mHealth programs to reach national scale and positively impact the health of millions in hard to reach areas.”

In addition to catalytic funding, these competitive grants offer targeted technical assistance, provided by the mHealth Alliance and WHO. This assistance helps guide grantees through critical, yet challenging, processes along the path to scaling up. During the two-year grant period, grant winners will have the opportunity to not only receive technical assistance but also to collaborate and share lessons learned with each other and the previous rounds of grantees. The shared learning will, in turn, contribute to the global mHealth community’s understanding of best practices for scaling up mHealth.

“In its third year, the IWG catalytic grant program has established itself as a powerful mechanism for supporting and encouraging the scale-up of innovative mHealth projects with studies and data that indicate they are on the pathway to impact,” said Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance. “The unique combination of catalytic funding, coupled with technical guidance and a network of like-minded collaborators, truly provides our grant winners with the resources they need to move successfully from the pilot stage to wide-scale implementation. The work of these grantees impacts the lives of mothers and children in meaningful, tangible ways, and supports global efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health) and 6 (reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis).”

The 2013 grantees were recognized today at a luncheon held in support of Every Woman, Every Child. The 10 grant winners include the following (click here for complete descriptions of the winners):

FHI 360 (Kenya, Tanzania)

Three pathways to scaling Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) – Using the grant, FHI 360 plans to explore three avenues that could contribute to the financial sustainability of m4RH, an automated, interactive and on-demand short message service (SMS) system that provides essential facts and addresses common misconceptions about the full range of short-acting and long-acting contraceptive methods. By achieving financial sustainability, FHI 360 will increase reach and access to family planning information for communities in Kenya and Tanzania.

Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University (India)

CycleTel: Scaling up the first family planning method via mobile phones – The grant will be used to scale up CycleTel, a service based on the scientifically-tested Standard Days Method® (SDM) of family planning. CycleTel will work with public and private sector partners to bring this innovative service to scale in India.

John Snow, Inc. (Malawi)

Scaling up cStock in Malawi: Using data to improve access to medicines in the community – cStock, a system for reporting, managing, and monitoring all community-level health products (e.g., medicine), has been implemented as part of the Enhanced Management (EM) approach in Malawi and has been endorsed by the Ministry of Health. The grant will be used to introduce the EM package to two districts and for developing a GPRS mobile application to support long-term reductions in costs and expansion of the system.


Texting to Improve Testing (TextIT) Strategy: Text messaging to increase postpartum clinic attendance and rates of early infant diagnosis of HIV – KEMRI has designed an interactive two-way text messaging intervention to deliver HIV-related information and encourage increased clinic attendance for prevention programs. KEMRI has evaluated the intervention’s efficacy in a randomized controlled trial in Nyanza province, Kenya. With the IWG grant, this program will be expanded from 5 to 20 health facilities.

Ministry of Health, Zanzibar, University of Copenhagen (Zanzibar)

Wired Mothers – This program consists of two components: 1) an automated SMS system providing wired mothers with unidirectional text messaging and 2) a mobile phone voucher system providing access to emergency obstetric care through improved communication and referral links from primary health care facilities to hospitals. Specific areas for scale-up supported by the grant will include the training of additional health providers.

PATH (Vietnam)

Expanding reach of immunization registry in Vietnam – Under Project Optimize, PATH and the National Expanded Programme on Immunization have created a digital immunization registry system. The funds provided by the IWG grant will be instrumental in designing, testing, and evaluating the system in Ben Tre province, where the service will benefit a population of 1.3 million.

Pathfinder International (Nigeria)

m4Change – Pathfinder will support Nigeria’s Saving One Million Lives initiative by using the grant to scale up the use of CommCare, a mobile phone decision support application, to improve the quality of maternal and child health services offered at primary health centers. Pathfinder will also provide technical assistance to the SURE-P project to integrate mobile money as an option for pregnant women to receive CCT payments, in order to increase the efficiency and security of transactions. Building upon the current m4Change pilot project, Pathfinder will implement CommCare in a total of 50 primary health centers in Abuja and Nasarawa, and will train 350 healthcare workers to use the mobile phone application.

Sesame Workshop (India)

Building communities of change: A mobile-based initiative of Galli Galli Sim Sim – Sesame Workshop India, through the IWG catalytic grant, will expand its innovative Radiophone program, which uses the power of a community radio platform and combines it with mobile phones to deliver information to help children grow up healthy and happy. The program will expand to improve awareness and attitudes on water sanitation and personal hygiene among 1.5 million people (reaching 200,000 children) in 10 diverse communities across north and central India.

UNICEF-Uganda, New York University (Uganda)

Empowering m-citizens to strengthen maternal, newborn and child health with mTrac and U-report – This project will use the IWG grant to combine the power of the U-report system, which equips mobile phone users with the tools to establish and enforce new standards of transparency and accountability, and the data management system mTrac. This combination will allow data to be delivered back to health facilities and professionals using mobile phones and will also help to measure improvements in health service delivery. UNICEF will mobilize the existing 200,000 U-reporters and recruit 50,000 additional U-reporters in six months as part of the scale-up.

WAHA International (Senegal)

Improving access to maternal healthcare through mHealth – An SMS campaign to educate the community about the availability and benefits of maternal and child health services and to address transportation barriers will use the grant to move from pilot testing of 134,000 to reaching a population of nearly 700,000 in the Tambacounda region of Senegal. These messages are reinforced by a team of community health workers known as Badien Gokh (“community godmothers”) trained by the Senegalese Ministry of Health.


Chelsea Hedquist
Senior Communications Officer, mHealth Alliance
Office: 202.778.1632
Mobile: 202.290.8440