CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Iheed Institute, the Irish global health initiative, and global education leader, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, brought together over 200 international delegates, representing mobile phone manufacturers, network operators, NGOs, software companies and Governments, to the world’s first mobile health education conference, mHealthEd, which took place in Cape Town, South Africa, this week.
The conference was designed and organized by iheed Institute and sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Delegates gathered at the conference to share experiences, discuss innovative new technologies and map out the future potential of the emerging mobile health education sector.
Mobile Health Education leverages the proliferation and relative cost effectiveness of mobile phone devices to improve the training and skills of front-line health workers and provides them with simple diagnosis and data collection tools.
Mobile phone usage in emerging economies has grown exponentially in the past decade with seven out of every ten people owning a mobile phone in India and China and almost one in every two people in Africa. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 90% of the world’s population now have access to mobile coverage. As the quality of mobile phones and mobile networks improve it is clear that mobile technology can develop solutions that support larger-scale and faster training of health workers, and improve patient understanding of disease prevention.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has partnered with iheed on this mobile health education initiative to serve as a catalyst for extending digital and mobile education to K-12 institutions and ministries of education around the world.
Speaking at the conference, Fiona O’Carroll, Executive Vice President, New Ventures and Innovation for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said, “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is pleased to be working at the forefront of mobile learning technology. Our alliance with iheed and their work in the mobile health arena is a catalyst for advancing mobile education in all aspects around the globe. Digital and mobile media are changing the way we learn and consume information. Our new mobile learning initiative will support learning on demand, anytime/anywhere, all while meeting the needs for 21st century learning.”
A report by Dalberg Development Partners and iheed Institute which was presented at the conference outlined the future potential of mHealth education. The report stated that to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goals for health, developing countries need to train over 3 million health workers in the coming years. Shortages of budget, schools and trainers would make that almost impossible, but now that the majority of health workers have mobile phones, that is changing. The report points out that mLearning is already a half a billion dollar a year industry in the USA. Bringing that know-how to health-worker training could help countries meet their targets, improve workers skill-levels, improve the health outcomes of millions of the World’s poorest people and reduce the cost of training by tens of millions of dollars. The report also called for integration of mobile health education into developing countries health resource strategies, and the creation of a shared library of suitable mobile learning content.
Organized by iheed Institute and sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, mHealthEd is a partner event of the GSMA / mHealth Alliance Mobile Health Summit. The event on June 6 in Cape Town International Convention Centre, was opened by a video-greeting from former President Mary Robinson, attracted over 200 delegates from around the world.
Speakers included Dr. Yogan Pillay, Director General for Strategic Health Programs, South Africa Ministry of Health and Dr. Sharad Sapra, former Director of Communications for UNICEF and currently with UNICEF Uganda, and Fiona O’Carroll, Executive Vice President for New Ventures & Innovation at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Organizations represented include;
UN Foundation; Johns Hopkins University; Columbia University Earth Institute; Clinton Foundation; Barr Foundation; Vodacom; Accenture; Grameen Foundation; Open University; MTN.
About iheed Institute
iheed Institute is a Mitchelstown, Ireland-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting innovation in health education. The Institute’s activities include raising awareness and fostering collaboration between NGOs, technology companies, educators and Governments around health education training; catalytic funding of innovative training projects and education initiatives; and establishing a repository of digital, localised maternal and child health educational material suitable for distribution via mobile networks.
About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
With education products and services used by 57 million students throughout all 50 U.S. states and 120 countries, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a global education and learning company. The world's largest provider of materials for pre-K–12 learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is leading the way with innovative solutions and approaches to the challenges facing education today. Through curricula excellence coupled with technology innovations and professional services, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt collaborates with school districts, administrators, teachers, parents and students, providing interactive, results-driven learning solutions. Its Educational Consulting Services group works to increase student achievement in underperforming schools by developing, implementing and supporting education transformation through sustained district partnerships. With origins dating back to 1832, the Company also publishes an extensive line of reference works and award-winning literature for adults and young readers. For more information, visit www.hmhco.com.