The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has signed a partnership agreement with global healthcare firm Bupa, to collaborate on a global ‘m-Health’ initiative called ‘Be Healthy, Be Mobile’.
Bupa and ITU will join forces to provide multidisciplinary expertise, health information and mobile technology to fight chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, in low- and middle-income countries. The programme is led by ITU and the World Health Organization (WHO).
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said: “Non-communicable diseases are the single greatest factor contributing to mortality and the overall disease burden in developed countries and emerging economies alike. Where m-Health is concerned, ITU works with WHO to share our long-standing experience and our competence in mobile technologies and healthcare as well as our network of partners. We are truly excited about the potential of this new partnership with Bupa to help us accelerate the adoption of mobile health interventions worldwide.”
Bupa CEO Stuart Fletcher said: “Of the 36 million people who died from chronic disease in 2008, nine million were under the age of 60; and 90 per cent of these premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. m-Health is a cost-effective and accessible way to get health information and tools to people so that they can keep well and we can reduce the impact of chronic diseases worldwide. Through this partnership we will be at the heart of a systemic intervention in healthcare and will help millions of people to live longer, healthier, happier lives, fulfilling our purpose.”
Launched in October 2012, the “Be Healthy, Be Mobile” initiative looks at developing best practices and bringing them to scale and is planned to run for four years initially.
In its first phase, the initiative is focusing on deploying mobile health interventions in areas such as diabetes, smoking cessation, hypertension, wellness and training of health workers. More than 25 countries have already expressed interest in participating. A smoking cessation programme via mobile phones is currently underway in Costa Rica.
Bupa will contribute with expert knowledge, health information and innovative technology to support the adoption of m-Health interventions by governments to address prevention and treatment of NCDs and their common risk factors, including tobacco use, diet, stress and physical inactivity.
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