Category Archives: General

You’re Invited! Making Digital Health Work, a special UN General Assembly Side Event 9/26/18

Numerous digital health projects have been piloted over the past 20 years and, as a result, many valuable lessons have been learned. Devices are becoming smarter at lower costs, which both enables new methods for diagnosing, treating and managing health issues, and also catalyzes more efficient and effective means for community health workers to support their clients. New technologies like artificial intelligence also have the potential to expand access and drive improvements across the continuum of care.

Governments are realizing the benefits of digital technologies, especially in the health sector, and are discussing how they can pay for these improvements.

Is this the moment we have been working towards? What will it take to make digital health work for all?

On behalf of the Global Health Council, John Snow Inc., Living Goods and mPowering Frontline Health Workers we are happy to invite you to a special UN General Assembly Side Event, Making Digital Health Work for All, on Wednesday September 26 from 8:30-10 am at the Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, N.Y.

Keynote speaker: Olasupo Oyedepo, African Alliance for Digital Health Networks

Moderator: Alice T. Liu, mPowering Frontline Health Workers


  • Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, Congressional Research Service
  • Jennifer Esposito, Intel
  • Debra Jackson, UNICEF
  • Liz Jarman, Living Goods
  • Steve Ollis, JSI

A light breakfast is included.

Please RSVP by Monday, September 24, 2018.


Invitation graphic to the UN General Assembly side event

Invitation to “Making Digital Health Work for All” UNGA Side Event


Local Ownership: The Critical Ingredient for Sustainable Digital Training for Frontline Health Workers

Frontline health workers in Pakistan during workflow exercise.

Innovative organizations see the opportunities presented by technology to plug health education and delivery gaps. But the drive must come from local leaders.

Those of us working on frontline health worker education programs have long recognized the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) to address the problems caused by the high costs of medical training. These costs leave many frontline health workers without adequate training in low-resource and fragile environments, and many communities without access to high-quality health services.

In order to achieve true long-term sustainability of digital health worker education programs, we need to recognize the following issues and take a different approach:

  • Many frontline health worker training programs are fragmented and uncoordinated.
  • Many digital health education programs duplicate technology and content development, inefficiently using scarce funds.
  • Development programs have often underestimated the pace and uptake of technological innovation in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Programs often develop digital health education tools without government ownership in mind.

The mPowering Frontline Health Workers initiative is determined to change the status quo, placing local government ownership at the center of programs—a crucial ingredient for long term sustainability. Sponsoring agencies such as USAID increasingly recognize that aid is more likely to catalyze sustained development when it reinforces a country’s own development priorities (country ownership) and systems.


Coordinate with local partners

Health ministries are often keen to have more direct ownership over the training resources used with their health workers and want the ability to manage, validate, and approve resources according to their needs, priorities, and policies.

One of the core tenets of mPowering’s work is working in tandem with local governments and ministries of health and other partners. Through USAID support, mPowering developed Open Deliver, a sustainable digital learning platform and process for local governments and ministries to manage basic, digital education and training resources on a national scale.  Open Deliver enables the creation of a national digital content library, integrated with a learning management system to manage training courses and curriculums, and delivers those courses to the health worker via a mobile app. Local frontline health worker training implementers can use Open Deliver to support mentoring and supportive supervision or in a blended learning program, using in-person and mobile education in a complementary approach where traditional in-person education, by itself, is unaffordable, inadequate, or difficult to implement.

In Uganda, local teams are creating educational modules related to treating trauma clients in emergency situations. In Pakistan a diverse partnership is integrating educational content with data collection to better address nutritional health awareness in rural areas. The local teams developed or adapted contextually relevant multimedia content for health workers, while working within the guidance and constraints set by local authorities.

Dr. Peter Kavuma of Makerere University in Uganda conducts an emergency medicine skills demonstration to third-year medical students as part of the Open Deliver blended-learning program. Courtesy mPowering Frontine Health Workers


Local ownership reduces dependency and boosts local industry

A heightened sense of local ownership encourages health worker curriculum development to take place locally, reducing dependence on international organizations and boosting local industry.

When trained and in control of the process, local partners are able to respond quickly to any challenges, adapting the technology as necessary.

Not only is OpenDeliver locally developed, but it enables users to manage their own learning. As health workers progress through the mobile training courses, Open Deliver collects data and produces analytics related to the health worker’s progress and knowledge, also providing decision-makers with statistics on the most effective strategies.

Mobile technology is one of the most transformative technologies of the last century. At mPowering we believe that this can be used for a force of good, to address challenges in the health education system. To learn more about how mPowering is leveraging mobile technology to improve the performance of frontline health workers around the world, please visit and or send us an email.


By Mike Bailey and Alice Liu
Originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog and shared with permission.


Zika: Lessons Learned after 1 Year’s Response

Over the course of the past program year (October 2016-September 2017), mPowering was able to join the Zika Response Team within USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program. As part of mPowering’s involvement, a Zika-specific domain was launched on the ORB platform, the entire ORB site was translated into Spanish, and over 80 quality-assured, mobile-ready, Zika-related health worker training materials were curated on ORB. This collaboration also awarded mPowering the opportunity to establish new networks and build on existing partnerships for increased impact and reach.

Lesson 1: Sharing Helps Everyone

The past year of activities have demonstrated the efficiency of online resource sharing. The Zika Communications Network has supported this point by establishing itself as a central hub for any and all Zika-related tools and materials. By hosting a variety of resources focused toward community engagement, health worker training, policymakers, vector control and sexual transmission in a wide variety of formats such as fact sheets, videos, posters, pamphlets and others; the ZCN provides a platform for content creators and content seekers to meet across organizational lines.

Photo Credit: Life News

ORB shares this focus on content sharing, but differs from the ZCN in that ORB curates health worker training materials that are in formats usable on a mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or smart phone. ORB also requires that all resources be open-source through public domain or Creative Commons licensing in order for users to be able to download resource files for use offline. This is especially important when health workers download a resource then travel to an area without cellular connectivity or Wi-Fi. An example could be if a health worker downloaded Pathfinder’s Cue Cards for Counseling Adolescents on Contraception then used their smart phone or tablet to show them to young people in a rural community outside of cellular network.

ORB and the ZCN continuously conduct cross-site scans to ensure applicable resources are shared on each platform.

Lesson 2: Quality is Possible in Emergencies

One challenge faced during the first year was the ever-changing accuracy of technical evidence and the impact this had on materials development. Content creators feared that sharing tools and resources outside of their organization’s programs could jeopardize the quality of materials if technical content was to change as a result of new findings. This fear proved to be a hurdle in the path toward open resource sharing. mPowering and MCSP’s Zika Response Team found that linking online resources to their original source website as well as timestamping resources and including disclaimers regarding the fast-paced updating of Zika technical findings helped to reinforce quality standards and safety in sharing.

Lesson 3: Keep Sharing!

As mPowering continues to work with MCSP’s Zika Response Team, heading into Year 2, there is still a need for advocacy of open-source sharing. We encourage content creators to share their resources on platforms like ORB and the ZCN. If organizational hurdles prevent sharing on external sites, we encourage creators to share announcements of resources through networks like HipNet, HIFA, the Global Digital Health Network, the Zika Communications Network and others for dissemination on listservs and blogs.

If you are creating materials for Zika response and would like to share on ORB, find our Resource Guidelines here:

Health Workers Featured at IntraHealth’s Switchpoint Conference!


On April 27th and 28th, the Switchpoint Conference took place in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. The conference, a production by our partner IntraHealth, showcased topics dealing with humanitarian innovation, global health and technology. Focusing on building interconnectivity amongst its participants, the conference had interactive networking sessions, microlabs, and presentations on various topics. A special session featured community health workers from around the world and let them voice their stories and experiences.


The following “Testimonies from the Front Lines”, shed light on the experiences of two of the health workers in attendance.


Vânia Soares de Oliveira e Almeida Pinto


Vânia Soares de Oliveira e Almeida Pinto graduated from the Faculdade de Medicina de São José do Rio Preto in 2001 where she specialized in family and community medicine. Vânia taught medical courses at the Universidade de Ribeirão Preto, at the Centro Universitário Barão de Mauá, and at the Hospital das Clínicas de Ribeirão Preto-USP. Currently, she is a professor at the Mucuri Valley, in Teófilo Otoni Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is a tutor for the program More Doctors for Brazil and will finish her master’s degree this year. In collaboration with the Medtronic Foundation and other partners, Vânia is coordinating a project for Healthrise Brazil. This project taps into Vânia’s passion for primary health care and family health, specifically public health policies for under-served communities.



Sanele Madela

Expectra 868 Health Solutions

Dr. Sanele Listen Mandlenkosi Madela was born in the dusty streets of Dundee Sibongile Township and now holds a medical degree from Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medical de Villa Clara (Cuba) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). Sanele is the MD/founder of Expectra 868 Health Solutions, a non-government organization (NGO) in South Africa focused on community health work. Expectra 868 aims to address the health disparities faced by the community of Umzinyathi District Municipality, where 80% of the population lives in rural areas. Sanele was awarded the 2013 MEC Annual Excellence Award for his contribution to the community-based medical education and advocacy of primary health care.


Learn more about Switchpoint here:




Contributors: Hamida Mohammad, Alex Kellerstrass & IntraHealth Staff


Getting Started with Digital Health: New Guides and Resources

We know that mobile phones have the power to provide health workers with up-to-date training and information. Digital tools  can allow training to reach more people in their own communities. However, with so much training happening in person, and the wealth of information that’s available in paperform – where do we begin? How can we change our practices to incorporate new technologies into training and communication?


mPowering Frontline Health Workers, USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Project (MCSP), and the Knowledge for Health Project (K4Health) hosted an event to look at this very question. During a presentation at MCSP, our teams shared tools and resources to help program managers, technical experts, and trainers begin to incorporate digital content and approaches in their work. Some of the resources we shared included:

  • K4Health’s Content Adaptation Guide: This interactive guide helps users understand how to adapt content to a new context, language, delivery mechanism, or other form. Through worksheets and case studies, users can practice changing existing content to make it meaningful to a new audience.
  • Creating with Mobile in Mind: This advocacy document explains why it matters to design materials and resources that can be used on a mobile device. Mobile-friendly materials matter, as more people now are accessing the internet for the first time on a mobile device than on a computer.
  • Creative Commons FAQ: Creative Commons licenses are important tools for sharing digital content. This document answers frequently asked questions like: Where can I learn more about available licenses? How do I choose the one that meets my needs?
  • Mobile Training Discussion Guide: Using digital health in a new or existing program can take a number of forms, but it always requires careful planning. This guide will help a team consider a new idea to integrate a digital tools and content into a training program. It asks questions about each phase of development, implementation, and evaluation; and provides space for teams to make notes.

We encourage you to access these resources, and contact with any questions. These are only a few of the tools that can help you integrate digital health into training and communications programs – for even more ideas, take a look at the mHealth Knowledge site or join the Global Digital Health Network. If you use any of these tools to develop a mobile training or product, send us an email and let us know.

By Carolyn Moore and Liz Eddy.
Midwifery students in Ghana use a tablet in training. Kate Holt/MCSP
Cover of Making Content Meaningful, K4Health