Technology and Education for the most Marginalised Post-COVID-19

A girl is taking a selfy while another girl is watching a video on a computer.
Image by the EdTech Hub

2020 has been a rough year. Everyone was impacted by the current global pandemic, many lost their beloved ones and an end to the crisis is still not yet in sight. As always, the ones who got most impacted by the crisis are the most marginalised in our communities. Millions lost their jobs with often no social safety net and the pandemic has disproportionately affected women workers [1]. Children and young adults were also profoundly impacted by the pandemic. The Wold Bank estimates that school closures due to COVID-19 have left over a billion students out of school. This results in a loss of 0.6 years of schooling adjusted for quality, bringing down the effective years of basic schooling that children achieve during their schooling life from 7.9 years to 7.3 years [2].

ICTs were prised as the solution and home schooling became the norm. This surfaced once more the darker sides of ICTs and how they amplify inequalities rather then reduce them. Students from privileged backgrounds could continue their education from home while having access to high-speed internet and their own devices, but many others were not so lucky. It is estimated that the pandemic threatens to push 72 million more children into learning poverty – meaning that they are unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10 [3]. Many teachers, parents and students were not prepared for this shift into the online world. Teachers and parents (mostly women) are truly, under many others, the heroes of this crisis. All of this also impacted my life and work:

  1. My humble try to learn the French language was interrupted and my language course was moved online. My professor simply said that she does not know on how to teach online and ended the course. I was lucky to find another group I could join. In the end this was not a problem, since I have a computer and internet at home, but it illustrated the unpreparedness of the education system.
  2. My Indian students were not so lucky. I was teaching computer science at an university in South-India. The course is a mix of online and offline hands-on programming – so there should not have been a problem, since I was already teaching online. But since the university was closed and all students went home, more than half of them lost their access to a computer. Fig. 1 illustrates the responses to questions I conducted at the beginning of the lock-down to find out if I can continue the course. 17 out of 25 responded and half of them have no computer at home. Back then I decided that I will pause the course, because I thought that the university will again open soon. This was a tough call, I did not want to exclude the students with no computers, but therefore I also had to end the training for those who could have continued.
Diagram of how many of my Indian students have a computer at home. Less than 50 have one at home.
Fig. 1 – Do you have a computer at home?

Guidance for governments on the use of digital technologies in education

Back then I discussed with Tim Unwin the global developments in education due to COVID-19 and he told me that he is currently in progress of starting a new report. He was so kind to accept my request to join his team, since I was eager to work on the topic: Technology and Education for the most marginalised Post-COVID-19. We started working and I joined the core team:

  • Alicja Pawluczuk (UNU Institute in Macau)
  • Azra Naseem (Aga Khan University, Pakistan)
  • Christopher Yoo (Univeristy of Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Mohamed Shareef (Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, Maldives)
  • Paul Spiesberger (Chair of, Co-Head of BRIC at INSOTU Wien, Austria)
  • Paul West (Creative Commons Chapter, South Africa)
  • Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, UK)

We also had a distinguished panel of advisors and support from the EdTech Hub. The report was funded by DFID (now FCDO) and the World Bank through their EdTech Hub. The aim was to create a report for governments to advise them on how to use technologies in their education systems. Not in short terms, but rather post COVID-19 to prepare for the next catastrophe and make our education systems more resilient in the long run. Back then we saw many ICT education implementations done in haste and not thought through. For us the most important was a clear focus on the most marginalized to counter inequalities and an easy read for higher government officials in the form of two pager guidance notes.

Our work began in June 2020 and drew largely on an extensive consultation process to identify the main priorities on which our report should concentrate. We worked with groups from Civil Society and International Organisations, the Private Sector, Governments, UN Agencies and Academics, as well as regional consultations from Africa, Asia/Pacific/Middle East and the Americas to help shape our recommended priorities [4].

Tim orchestrated in 9 thematic online session discussions and the creation of mindmaps. We tried to support him as best as possible. In total, 43 women and 44 men from 34 countries contributed to our thoughts in crafting the report and guidance notes. You can find all mindmaps here licenced under the Creative Commons CC BY Licence.

Example of a mindmap from one of the online sessions.
Example of a mindmap from one of the online sessions.

These mind-maps can be summarised in the word map below prepared by myself, which represents the frequency of words included in all of these mind-maps.

Out of the consultations, we found that there are five things that a government must do once a holistic vision has been crafted that is committed to using digital technologies to create a resilient education system that provides education and learning for all [5]:

  1. Create a whole society approach that delivers equity in education.
  2. Enable access for all to digital technologies by providing resilient funded infrastructures for learning, funded by Central Government rather than Ministries of Education.
  3. Be context-specific at all times, especially in terms of the technologies used in education and the content crafted for learners.
  4. Ensure that appropriate pedagogies are used in the practices of teaching and learning.
  5. Use digital technologies wisely and safely.

The report consists of 3 acts [5]:

  1. Act One is intended primarily for the most senior government officials and contains a summary of the report’s approach and main recommendations. 
  2. Act Two provides the detailed exposition, arguments and evidence upon which these recommendations are based, and is intended primarily for those in government who are charged with implementing them. 
  3. Act Three contains 14 Guidance Notes which provide succinct advice on delivering important distinct aspects of the overall report.

I had the honour to contribute to Guidance Note 3: Digital technologies and girls’ education. Georg Steinfelder and I then also worked on creating an audio track of the guideline, you can listen to it here.

The report launched on the December 18, 2020 and I am proud that I could contribute to its creation. I encourage you to read and discuss our results. You find the the report here at its official website and you can read more about the creation here.

It is somewhat a contradiction that I spent half of 2020 in my apartment and still did not find the time to write about this report earlier. I wish for 2021 that this reports gets into the hands of many decision makers around the globe, that we together defeat this virus once and for all and that I will find more time to share work that is as inspiring as this report. I am grateful to Tim and my team colleagues for giving me this opportunity and wish all of you a Happy New 2021!

[1] UN News, “Hard times forecast for global job recovery in 2020, warns UN labour agency chief”,
[2] World Bank Group on Education, “Simulating the Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 School Closures on Schooling and Learning Outcomes: A set of Global Estimates”, June 2020
[3] World Bank Press Release, “Pandemic Threatens to Push 72 Million More Children into Learning Poverty—World Bank outlines a New Vision to ensure that every child learns, everywhere”, December 2, 2020
[4] UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, “Technology and Education for the most marginalised Post-COVID-19”,
[5] EdTech Hub, “Education for the most marginalised post‑COVID-19, Guidance for governments on the use of digital technologies in education”,

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Technology and Education for the most Marginalised Post-COVID-19
was published on 03.01.2021 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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Mobile Applications: Case Studies and Business Model Analysis

Our partner the eDevelopment Thematic Group of the World Bank is coming up with an event on Mobile Applications: Case Studies and Business Model Analysis.

From the event page:

This global event will connect specialists and practitioners from countries across four regions to share the latest World Bank study on the use of mobile applications for the health sector and the agriculture and rural development sector. A 90-minute session is scheduled for each sector.

Case studies from Haiti, India, Kenya, The Philippines and Sri Lanka will be presented.

The date for the event is Thursday, January 21 from 8:00 to 11:15 a.m. Washington time.

The event can be watched online via webcast. The Twitter hashtag is #wbmapps. Here the Facebook event page.

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Mobile Applications: Case Studies and Business Model Analysis
was published on 19.01.2011 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Notes of Global CIO Dialogue on the Future of Government Transformation

Notes of the World Bank ICT Sector Unit event Global CIO Dialogue on the Future of Government Transformation on 8 November.

Trying to bring the learned lessons from practicioners all around the world (UK, Moldova, Singapore) to real-life projects.


Philippe Dongier, Sector Manager, Sector ICT Unit, The World Bank

Opening remarks – Introduction of speakers and country audiences

The World Bank is working right now with Moldova on a large government transformation project and this project is also introduced today


Keynote Address by John Suffolk, UK Government CIO

“Somebody somewhere in the world has already solved the problem” – bringing people together has a large value

It’s difficult to predict the next steps of technology – nobody knew that Facebook, Twitter, … would change the world like that

Governments must respond to the changing needs of globalization

  • different media for services (paper, telephone, online forms, …)
  • governments are online
  • countries’ agencies are very integrated (fed, state, local) – also because of consumer demand
  • outsourcing of sectors to the private sector
  • Example: iTunes to get text for police officers to different languages when trying to arrest people

Different countries have expertise concerning different eGovernment sectors – mobile services, identity management, …

Tranparency is an issue

  • we publish crime data – quickly Android application appeared to show crime in different areas
  • UK approach: publishing as much data as we can

The next technology changes cannot be predicted – but what are the trends?

  • we have stopped worrying about the future – nobody can keep track of it
  • risk is rising
  • approach is important: which outcome do I want to deliver?
  • everything pervasive is interesting
  • not into long term contracts
  • not paying big license fees
  • scalable services
  • all things mobile
  • combining small services rather than having monolithic big systems

Where should I start?

  • there is no single start position – everybody has a different start position
  • start where you can simply and quickly achieve something
  • try to pick services which create an infrastructure for another service


  • it’s critically important to bring parties together – learning from each other
  • we need to think about where we want to be in 5 years time – past problems are already gone
  • anything you can do with teaming up with other countries to solve a similar issue will reduce your risk and learn from each other


World Bank Project Example: Moldova Governance eTransformation by Stela Mocan, Executive Director of e-Government Center, Moldova


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Notes of Global CIO Dialogue on the Future of Government Transformation
was published on 08.11.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Global CIO Dialogue on the Future of Government Transformation

Our partner the eDevelopment Thematic Group of the World Bank is coming up with another workshop on government transformation via ICTs.

After interesting workshops on – for example

this time the organizers decided to take a look in the future of government transformation. As written on the eTG homepage of the event:

This workshop […] will feature a keynote presentation by Mr. John Suffolk, Government CIO of UK, who will share the experience of United Kingdom and will speak of the latest technology trends and how they impact government transformation. This will be followed by a panel discussion with senior government officials and CIOs from leading countries on their vision of how online tools and advanced technology can be used to make government processes more transparent, to encourage informed public participation, to foster collaboration across government and with other sectors of society, and to make government administration more cost-effective during the next 5 years. The panelists will discuss the ways in which the cutting edge technologies, such as cloud computing, web 2.0, mobile technology and open data are pursued as tools for government transformation, as reflected in e-government strategies in their respective countries.

The workshop will also introduce the Moldova Governance e-Transformation project as an example of an innovative government transformation initiative leveraging the latest technologies in the context of a transition country […]

The date for the event is November 8 from 8:30 to 10:45 a.m. Washington time.

If you are interested in watching the workshop or even participating, you can register for the webcast and post your questions on Twitter (hashtag #WBCIO). You can find more information and the agenda at the eTG event page on the future of government transformation. After the event you’ll also find a summary here on the blog.

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Global CIO Dialogue on the Future of Government Transformation
was published on 05.11.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Notes of IT for Climate-Smart Development

Notes of the Global ICT Department event IT for Climate-Smart Development: “Not Your Grandfather’s Bank” at the Social Development Forum on January 20.


We don’t have solutions for climate change and as there are very many stakeholders it is hard to agree on a solution

Global ICT department addresses this issue from the policy angle, but there have to be business models for private investments as well


Frank Rijsberman, Director Program of

Managing climate risk in the cloud

“Innovating for good” – 1% equity spent to innovation

Climate change is impacting people in poor countries

  • Sea level rise in Holland and Bangladesh is the same
  • But Bangladesh is impacted quite more

Information scarcity increases climate change vulnerability

  • acquiring information
  • disseminating information
  • enabling

Examples where is involved:


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Notes of IT for Climate-Smart Development
was published on 20.01.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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IT for Climate-Smart Development: “Not Your Grandfather’s Bank”

In the course of our partnership with the eDevelopment Thematic Group we are happy to announce an upcoming event of our partner: IT for Climate-Smart Development: “Not Your Grandfather’s Bank”.

From the IT for Climate-Smart Development event page:

The session will aim to raise staff understanding of how ICT can be used to achieve better results in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) promise to be important enablers of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in several sectors. Examples may include the use of ICTs in:

  • Climate monitoring for weather forecasting and predicting, detecting and mitigating the effects of natural disasters, monitoring analysis and control of industrial processes, among others;
  • Lowering energy consumption and GHG in the power networks (e.g. through smart grids);
  • IT applications in smart buildings and smart motor systems;
  • “Dematerialization” via e-government applications
  • Adapting agriculture and water resource management systems to evolving weather patterns using satellite-based information and simple mobile phone applications, smart irrigation and logistics.

An important theme will be the rapidly growing reach of mobile phone networks (more than 3bn phones in use in developing countries) and the potential to leverage these networks for climate change efforts.

Another important theme is investing in and growing the ‘clean’ technology sectors of developing countries, so that the economic opportunities presented by clean technologies are realized.

Speakers are

  • Jatin Singh, CEO SkyMet (India)
  • Frank Rijsberman, Director Program of
  • Monique Meche, Director, Environment Policy and Sustainability, Cisco Systems

So make sure you’ll be online on January 20 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Washington time.

We’ll cover it here on the blog and tweet about it – the hashtag is #it4dev.

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IT for Climate-Smart Development: “Not Your Grandfather’s Bank”
was published on 14.01.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Development Marketplace 2009

From tomorrow until Friday the Development Marketplace 2009, hosted by the World Bank Group in Washington takes place. The event is the final date for the Development Marketplace competition – dealing with the topic of Climate Adaption this year. Over 1700 projects tackling climate change were handed in and 100 of them were chosen to reach the final selection stage. Up to 25 of the projects will win – and be funded with a $ 200 000 grant – funded by the World Bank Group, the Global Environment Facility, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other partners.

The whole event will be covered fully on social media – including a DM2009 FlickR group, DM2009 Twitter account, DM2009 Youtube channel, DM 2009 Facebook and DM2009 LinkedIn event. It will also be broadcasted live (DM2009 live webcast) – starting tomorrow at 3 PM Austrian time.

Looking through the projects, there are several ICT4D-related ones there. What’s interesting though, is that the ICT used most in the projects is radio. There is only one project using SMS.

As the finalists are getting a small training how to use social media and ICT (they can borrow a camera and shoot videos with them) during the event, I am curious if they will find it useful and maybe even pick it up for the future development of their projects.

Three of the teams with ICT-related projects will even be interiewed tomorrow during the live webcast:

If you are interested in them – check their projects at the DM2009 project repository, watch the webcast tomorrow and post your questions and comments on Twitter – with the hashtag #dm2009.

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Development Marketplace 2009
was published on 10.11.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – Part 6

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


Session 6: Operationalizing mHealth: How do we translate mHealth applications into measurable health outcomes

Beyond the widespread global usage of mHealth applications, there remains a gap due to the lack of data and long-term impact assessments on health outcomes to validate the effectiveness of mHealth. Evaluation frameworks and studies are currently in process to fill this gap and this will be the subject of discussion between the panelists in this session along with the importance of monitoring and evaluation frameworks for this nascent sector.

Chairs: Armin Fidler, Advisor, Health, Nutrition and Population and Claire Thwaites, UN Foundation

This is an important question

  • how can outcomes be measured?
  • some people may even say it can’t be measured


Panel Discussion

Patty Mechael, mHealth and Telemedicine Advisor for the Earth Institute

Unfortunately the evidence is quite thin

  • study on pilot projects
  • randomized control trials
  • but still developing this and figuring what works and what doesn’t

mHealth in Millennium Village project

  • bringing connectivity to villages
  • improving internal communication
  • toll-free emergency numbers

Several applications

  • child monitoring system

eHealth ecosystem

  • closed loop system
  • linking to the other systems – interoperable

Tested hypotheses:

  • mobile technologies can improve access to health access -> health outcomes
  • quality of care -> health outcomes
  • improving efficiency & lowering cost

Focus on your goals and work your way backwards

Gold standard in health research: randomized control trials

  • Also on mHealth solutions

Everybody who works on a project should think of how to evaluate it


Julie Smith, Director of Public-Private Partnerships, CDC Foundation

Project: Phones for Health

Partnership with several organizations

Performance metrics – various areas of focus

  • also focusing on partnership performance
  • evaluating public-private partnerships


Rachel Glennerster, MIT Poverty Labs

We run randomized control trials

What are the challenges?

  • patients behaviour – is generally irrational
  • health care workers – are acting irresponsible

Several measures to improve the behaviour

  • upfront incentives
  • deadlines

Implications – health worker reliability

  • reliable objective monitoring

Taking the result to existing evaluation to create an mHealth product which is working


Andrew Stern, Partner, Dalberg Global Advisors

Evaluation – Theory of Change logic frame

Why do some projects work and some not?

  • differences between countries


  • mHealth is not a solution to broken health care systems

Identifying critical challenges that constrain success

  • decision making & budget
  • lack of authority or money

Once again – data without action is worthless


Q & A session

A lot of sessions mentioned that mHealth is not a fix for the health system – but particular aspects can be improved definitely

How do we get the results of the evaluation back to the policy?

Anybody experience in dealing with mental health with ICTs?


Rachel Glennerster:

  • There is definitely a role of ICT to fix the health system, not for every single mHealth project – but some are very helpful
  • Mental health? Really challenging for health systems in developing countries – no study seen so far
  • every sector says – we have no time to evaluate, we need to act now, but it’s not an excuse

Patty Mechael:

  • Getting systems to work can be very challenging
  • Even being able to study a situation before implementing a project is a way of getting to success easier


Closing Remarks

Armin Fidler, Advisor, Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank

Repeat what I heard during the day

  • Mobile phones are a cross cutting platform, it’s a means to an end
  • There is evidence that it can improve the functioning of health systems and also the outcomes – although it is hard to measure
  • It’s not only about scalability, also about sustainability
  • Funding has an implication on competition
  • eHealth policies can impede innovations – when is the right time?
  • How to creat good business models to create win-win for all stakeholders?
  • Leapfrogging

The way forward

  • maybe in 20 years eHealth will be just usual and be an integral part of health
  • exchaning information, how to collaborate – we should be doing more of that
  • evaluation – more concerted effort to disseminate lessons learned
  • scaling up – if we know something works, let’s make it big
  • we need to keep an eye about the next step of technology
  • it’s about health, it’s about people, it’s about change

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World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – Part 6
was published on 28.10.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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World Bank Day @ mHealth Summit – Part 5

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


Session 5: Showcasing mHealth Applications

This session will spotlight several mHealth applications that are being piloted and implemented. The panelists will provide demonstrations of their respective applications, provide an overview of why the applications were created and the direct impact in l countries where the technology has been introduced.

Co-Chairs: Armin Fidler, Advisor, Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank

We always need to be aware of unintended consequences

  • We should learn from our failures


Eric Rasmussen, CEO, INSTEDD

mHealth system interoperability is a critical task

we looked at the gaps – and how can we fill them with FOSS

  • GeoChat – SMS based, geotagging, mapping system, very successful
  • Mesh4x – synchronizing different tools to share information
  • Riff – collaborative decision support, cognitive analysis, sending messages when a problem appears
  • Innovation Lab – teaching people everything that we know to make it their own and make it sustainablee, we use all other tools we find useful as well


Pamela Johnson, Co-Founder and Chief Health Officer, Voxiva

This is where everything started, thank you to the World Bank and Infodev to have been there from the beginning

Since 2001 we wokred on mHealth innovations around the world

  • first pilot on Peru – increased to a country-based system and was adapted in other countries
  • we learn from the developing world about things we want to deploy in the US

Project in 2009 – Mexico, flu and diabetes system

We looked in mobile phones because we were interested in scale

Lessons learned:

1- It’s not just about technology

  • it’s about health, mobiles are only tools for health
  • it’s about people
  • our approach – we look at services which can use different technology, depending on different needs
  • If you want to scale, you have to meet people where they are

2- Different technologies are for different things

3- Change is a constant

  • the future will be different for sure

4- The regulatory requirement is really important

How to scale?

  • It’s about people
  • Avoid stovepipes – overkill of systems, devices, … may not be an improvement, standards are substantial
  • Plan for sustainability – total cost of ownership: discuss who will take the responsibility for every sector of a project


Josh Nesbit, Executive Director, Frontline SMS

Story how FrontlineSMS:Medic was developed

Internship in a rural hospital in Malawi

  • Community health workers were disconnected from the hospital
  • Trying to use FrontlineSMS for this purpose
  • Training health workers how to use text messages


  • Patient care – became digital and much more efficient
  • Logistics – partially automatized
  • Community workers – became connected

Taking this forward – introducing the FrontlineSMS:Medic tool all around the world

New project: FrontlineForms

Linking with OpenMRS and Ushahidi


  • focus on the end users and do programs their way
  • low cost, available tools
  • innovate on expressed needs


Erica Kochi, Co-Lead Innovation Group UNICEF

We work directly with governments, giving them policy advice

Today: talking about RapidSMS

  • open source framework to build SMS-based systems
  • built on exisitng practices in the health system
  • UNICEF will use it in 23 countries next year

Story starts in Ethiopia

  • monitored distribution of food via RapidSMS – SMS data collection, online visualization
  • cutting down the time needed for health workers

Other application in Malawi

  • real time government information

Motivation for workers:

  • sending symptoms and response SMS with diagnosis

Nigeria – Roll Back Malaria

Lessons learned:

  • scale as a constraint
  • partnerships are important
  • utility for end users
  • reinforce existing communication channels
  • people have to find it useful
  • build a local tech community

If you don’t use your data for action – it’s basically worthless


Hajo van Beijma, co-Founder of Text to Change

mHealth in developing countries

  • 5% is software, 95% is programs
  • It’s about impact
  • Challenges – we work with problems all day
  • Scalability
  • Focusing on the end user – what works?

We work with partnerships

  • governments
  • local NGOs

Key points:

  • We believe in African software – strengthening the economy
  • Look at the demands of local organisations & look at local content
  • Interactive projects
  • Create awareness
  • Local languages
  • Local content

Demand driving with new incentives – social incentives

Strengthening companies will help the mHealth movement in the end

Open source eveything – we are not there yet

Scaling is important – we are working on it


Commentator: Arleen Cannata Seed, Senior e-Government Specialist, CITPO, World Bank

A lot of projects have been recently developed so there is no evidence on impact yet

Some of the results can be attributed to the link between mobile phones and changing of behaviour

Mobile phone has great attibutes – which can influence behaviour as much as no other thing recently

We must stay vigilant with this technology

We have to make use of technology as it evolves


Q & A session

How are all these different programs working together?

What are important technology trends aside SMS – it’s pretty old?

How do we foster collaboration between those multiple initiatives?

Open source and open standards?

How to scale up pilot projects?


Pamela Johnson:

  • Integration of technology? We are working with other organisation which are active in the country – integrating services
  • When is the right time for creating policies?

Hajo van Beijma:

  • There is collaboration – e.g. Open mobile consortium

Josh Nesbit:

  • We are trying to find rallying points to collaborate with systems in the same sector

Eric Rasmussen:

  • Next technology? Utilization of new technology is increasing very fast – mCommerce will come soon; development of sensors – using mobile phone as platform for laboratory diagnosis
  • It is difficult to see how hard it is to collaborate – because of the grant-making mechanism, which makes us all natural opponents

Erica Kochi:

  • mHealth is not going to fix a broken health system
  • Collaborate with the users on the ground

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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
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