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    • Algeria militants kill 14 soldiers April 20, 2014
      Islamist militants kill 14 Algerian soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy in mountains east of the capital Algiers.
    • Nigeria teacher in seized girls plea April 19, 2014
      The headmistress of a school in Nigeria calls on the government to do more to save teenage girls abducted by suspected Islamist militants.
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      Dozens of people are killed in a cattle raid in a remote herders' camp in South Sudan's northern Warrap state, local officials say.
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      Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, wins a fourth term in office taking more than 81% of the vote.
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      The UN expresses outrage at a deadly attack on one of its bases in South Sudan, saying it could "constitute a war crime".
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      The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague summons reluctant witnesses to testify at the trial of Kenya's Vice-President William Ruto.
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      French troops in Mali free five aid workers who were kidnapped in the north of the country by suspected Islamist militants in February.
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      The tests carried out by a forensic expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial are rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
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      A Senegalese court rules that Karim Wade, the ex-president's son, should stand trial on corruption charges over his wealth, an official says.
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      Officials in Guinea-Bissau say a run-off vote will be held next month after no candidate won an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
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      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • VIDEO: Nigeria 'should do more' on abductions April 19, 2014
      Nigeria's military has admitted that most of the teenage girls abducted by suspected Islamist militants have not been freed as it earlier stated.
    • VIDEO: High security at S Sudan UN camp April 18, 2014
      South Sudan's government has sent troops to provide security at a United Nations base where at least 48 people were killed in an attack.
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      The Nigerian military has admitted that most of the 129 girls abducted by Boko Haram Islamists from their school in the north-eastern state of Borno are still missing.
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      Forensic tests carried out by an expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial have been rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
    • AUDIO: 'Killing books' in Libya April 15, 2014
      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
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      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
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      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
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      The prosthetic leg belonging to Oscar Pistorius has been shown to the court during his murder trial. He denies murder, claiming he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar.
  • RSS BBC News – Home

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      The last communications between the South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday and traffic services reveal panic and indecision by the crew.
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      Leading public figures claim David Cameron risks causing division in society with his recent comments that the UK is a Christian country.
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      The Russian foreign ministry expresses outrage at a fatal shooting incident in eastern Ukraine which it blames on Ukrainian nationalists.
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      Eight skydivers on an Easter Sunday jump are killed as their plane crashes near the town of Jamijarvi in Finland.
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      Flood defences and other protections are restored for more than 100,000 properties left at risk after this winter's severe weather.
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      Iran's President Hassan Rouhani urges equal opportunities and rights for women and condemns discrimination in a speech marking Women's Day.
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      Companies will be forced to declare their true owners on a public register in a move to tackle corruption, Business Secretary Vince Cable says.
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      Online social media is being misused to insult, intimidate and smear staff in schools, says a teachers' union.
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      Left-winger Hamdeen Sabahi will be the only challenger to ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt's presidential election, as registration ends.
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  • RSS Reuters: Politics

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      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
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      Here are your photos of the tastiest -- and most unusual -- African street food.
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Is there evidence that mHealth is an effective and suitable health delivery intervention in the developing world?

Posted by African Press International on May 10, 2013

NAIROBI,  - We’ve read the stories: From bedridden patients sending text messages to their health workers, to young people receiving HIV prevention messages via SMS, the mobile phone seems to have morphed from communications device to essential life-saver. But is the evidence there yet that mHealth is an effective and suitable health delivery intervention in the developing world?

IRIN, like others, has been reporting for years on mHealth’s potential: This communication technology could provide the answer to distant and under-resourced health services, in particular for Africa’s poor. Kenyan health workers have recounted how mobile phones have made it easier to track their patients’ progress; there have been anecdotal reports of lower maternal mortality rates as a result of Ghanaian mothers being able to call for ambulances during labour.

In Africa, with some 63 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants (compared to Asia and the Pacific’s 89 per 100 inhabitants), the cell in your pocket can become a direct channel for receiving public health messages, improving communication between patients and health providers, boosting data collection and, increasingly, assisting in diagnosis.

But a systematic review – published in January in PLOS Medicine – into the effectiveness of mHealth technology in improving health delivery found mixed results from 42 trials of mHealth interventions. SMS appointment reminders, for example, were found to have modest programmatic benefits, while using phones to send digital images for diagnosis actually led to a drop in the correct analysis in two trials examined.

A 2012 study by the mHealth Alliance, which advocates the use of mobile technologies in health care, found that sub-Saharan Africa had a higher number of mHealth projects compared to Asia and Latin America, with more than half of all mHealth projects related to communicable diseases such as HIV and malaria.

Insufficient evidence

Despite the rapid growth, “there is currently a gap in terms of evidence linking mHealth to improved health and operational benefits, and this is particularly true when it comes to studies in low- and middle-income countries,” Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance, told IRIN.

The PLOS review found that “none of the trials were of high quality – many had methodological problems likely to affect the accuracy of their findings – and nearly all were undertaken in high-income countries.”

Rajesh Vedanthan, an assistant professor at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Centre who is currently working with AMPATH, an academic health programme involved in research and health care in Kenya, told IRIN via email that some of the practical challenges with the use of mHealth technology included “optimizing the user interface, ensuring that users have an easy and error-free working experience with the mHealth device, not impeding the workflow of clinicians, issues related to network connectivity, access to a central server, coordination of individual devices with a central coordinating office, systems integration, etc…

“mHealth has the potential to assist with several aspects of the ‘supply chain’ of care for non-communicable diseases – including screening/diagnosis, linkage to care, treatment/decision support, retention and follow-up, systems coordination, etc.,” he added. “Whether mHealth will be effective in all of those arenas is still not robustly known, and rigorous research is still required.”

A need for standards

The mushrooming of mHealth pilot projects has caused concern around monitoring. Uganda has declared a moratorium on pilot mHealth initiatives as it seeks to bring them in line with national health policies.

“We first needed to study them [mHealth and mHealth initiatives]… Some of these people are duplicating what is already there,” Asuman Lukwago, the permanent secretary in Uganda’s Ministry of Health, told IRIN. “As a ministry, we only implement innovations that have been tested and approved. At the moment, we are suggesting reforms to put into practice for these new innovations.”

The mHealth Alliance recently released a review of standards in the use of mHealth among low- and middle-income countries, which found that as mobile health systems “move towards scale, existing guidelines and strategies will need to be revised to reflect new demands on executive sponsorship; national leadership of eHealth programmes; eHealth standards adoption and implementation; development of eHealth capability and capacity; eHealth financing and performance management and eHealth planning and architecture maintenance”.

Scaling up mHealth

Mechael noted that mHealth could only meet its potential if it was fully integrated into general health programmes, becoming “so much a part of health systems that we no longer need to use ‘m’ as a designation”, something that cannot happen unless mHealth projects move beyond the pilot phase and really reach scale at a national or regional level.

Importantly, experts say, the use of mHealth and other humanitarian technology should be allowed to be driven by the communities who benefit from it.

“There has been a recognition – belatedly, in some cases – of the ways beneficiaries are using technology, voting with their wallets and their feet… We can see that the most innovative models of humanitarian technology are driven by communities themselves,” Imogen Wall, the coordinator of communications with affected communities for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN.

She noted that humanitarian agencies would increasingly need to increase their engagement with the private sector as partners in preparedness and response, recognizing that the private sector is no longer merely a support system, but a humanitarian service provider as well.

OCHA recently released a report, Humanitarianism in the Network Age, which stresses the importance of information and communication in humanitarian work and urges new ways of thinking that adapt to the changing realities of communities around the world.

“In order for humanitarian technology to meet its full potential, there must be a willingness – an openness – to innovate, to think outside the box, to test new ideas and to risk failure and success in both the processes and the deliverables – essentially, a willingness to accept change,” Wall said.

kr/so/oa/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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