World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – Part 4

Notes from the eDevelopment Thematic Group event World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – mHealth from policy to implementation.


Part 2: Scaling-up Mobile Technology Innovations in Health Sector Projects

Session 4: Scaling Up Mobile Innovations in World Bank Health Sector Projects

This session will provide an overview of the potential contributions of ICT to health services in the countries that are facing greatest health problems, and how mHealth (and eHealth in general) can provide a new set of tools for Africa and other developing countries to tackle the long-standing health challenges. The session will discuss how ICT can help the Bank’s health operations to achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively as well as the key constraints. The session will also brainstorm how Bank can play a more active role in exploring and using ICT and the ways of scaling up ICT applications in World Bank health projects.

Chair: Eva Jarawan, Sector Manager, Africa Health Department, World Bank

Presentation by Feng Zhao, eHealth Coordinator, Africa Health Department, World Bank

eHealth and mHealth present tremendous opportunities, especially for developing countries

Tour to Telecomm 2009 Geneva – Open Network – Connected Minds

  • Paul Kagame: Africa must be seen as an opportunity
  • Communication is a basic human right
  • Consensus:
  • – world is different than just recently – due to mobiles
  • – ICT is an engine to economic growth everywhere
  • – ICT as answers to many challenges
  • – ICTs are part of almost everything we do

We are dealing with a new – increasingly connected – world

Potential of ICT in health has not been well studied – mostly anecdotal stories

  • Evidence can be seen in the initiatives of many countries
  • ICTs contributions to service delivery are easy to see and systematic

Demystifying mHealth

  • wrong perception that developing countries are not ready for mHealth

We should start a demand from the application side – then the connectivity will come

  • There are urgent health problems – waiting is not an option

Currently people in Africa are paying too much for mobile services – but prices are decreasing and low-cost models for developing countries are possible

  • eHealth can even be money saving

Developing countries are in greater need for ICT – for them eHealth is not an option, but a necessity


  • knowledge
  • integration and coordination
  • policy
  • capacity
  • lack of evidence

Why is mHealth important for the World Bank?

  • ICT can help reaching the MDGs – part of the responsibility of WB
  • ICT can tackle structural problems in a new way
  • WB has comparative advantages to promote mHealth and eHealth

Options for the World Bank:

  • knowledge sharing
  • capacity building
  • evaluation
  • mainstream ICT in health

eHealth requires strong partnerships


Panel Discussion

Deepak Bhatia, Lead eGovernment Specialist, Global ICT Dept, World Bank

Value chain for mobiles – many different stakeholders involved

  • how are they coming together to allow for mobile services to be delivered

World Bank can be an agent for standards

The success of mobile finance is something that should help promote mobile health services

Standards and interoperability of systems becomes extremely important

Cross cutting view – look at channels of eLearning and eFinance and use them

Evaluation of projects is important


Souheil Marine, Head of ICT Application and Cybersecurity, International Telecommunication Union (via videoconference from Geneva)


  • backbones are still lacking in developing countries
  • We need this to enable mobile phones to access to the internet
  • the digital divide is there


  • we dont have yet evidence that large scale application of mobile services can happen cost effective
  • we don’t know the value chain for all stakeholders
  • we need to build partnerships

In developing countries, eHealth is about making the scarce resource of a doctor more efficient

It’s health which is important, not eHealth


Najeeb Al-Shorbaji, Director for eHealth, World Health Organization (via video conference from Geneva)


  • like being invited to a party, everybody needs to bring something
  • the big organisations start to undertand that

Cost-benefit analysis

  • Like information itself it’s diffiecult to measure its impact
  • Assumption: because the health sector is knowledge based, the more information is there and organized, the better outcome there is

Capicity building leads to more efficiency and better usage of ICT

Without content – high quality data – services will not take off


Agnes Soucat, Advisor, Africa Health Department, World Bank

ICT is high on the agenda – but why?

  • In developing countries, eHealth is probably a revolution
  • we see more and more evidence that eHealth can leapfrog traditional healthcare systems in Africa

We should focus on redesigning their health systems

  • instead of helping them build yesterday’s solutions

We haven’t given enough notice to public sector potential


Q & A session

Microsoft – how do we jump in the development of the whole thing?

How do we incentify responsible behaviour in doctors by telemedicine?

Are we heading towards globalizing our health services and do we want that?


Souheil Marine:

  • In a developed country we can chose different doctors, but in developing countries mHealth services may allow to connect to the only doctor in the area

Najeeb Al-Shorbaji:

  • Developing and developed world have to learn from each other
  • We can’t impose tools to problems we never experienced
  • Globalizing services? Happens already, giving people the choice is one of the most important thing we can do

Feng Zhao:

  • This is about forming partnerships – we want to get to know all the stakholders, especially from the private sector
  • World Bank – we are now caring more about output, not input – focusing on results
  • We have had enough advocacy, we really need to get going

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World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – Part 4
was published on 28.10.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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