Mobile health education conference coming to Dublin
Previous two mHealthEd events were held in South Africa
A global conference on mobile health education is coming to Dublin.
More than 30 experts in medicine, mobile technology and healthcare will visit the Mansion House in Dublin for the two-day mHealthEd event this week.
The event, which will take place on Thursday and Friday was set up by Cork-based iheed Institute and is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Science Foundation Ireland and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad.
It aims to increase health education in developing countries through the use of mobile technologies.
This is the third year of the conference, but the first time it has been hosted in Ireland; the previous two events were held in Cape Town, South Africa.
“It’s a very early and new sector,” said Dr Tom O’Callaghan chief executive of the iheed Institute. “There are one billion people on the planet that still have no access to any health worker, which is an extraordinary statistic.”
The institute, which focuses on next generation content creation, is hoping to effect a change in the health industry by shifting from book and manual-based learning for health workers in developing areas to more interactive content on tablets and mobile phones.
In the past, mobile health education initiatives have included the use of text messages to give advice on how to avoid malaria or get tested for HIV or Aids; and also content on phones to provide distance learning and self-directed learning for health workers, nurses and clinical officers.
Dr O’Callaghan said the presence of some of the world’s major technology firms in Dublin provided a “real opportunity” to get involved and make a change in the sector. “Cheap mobile phones and tablets provide a real opportunity to change how people are trained using multimedia content,” he said. “That training content doesn’t really exist at the moment.”
There is also the opportunity for Irish developers and animators to get involved in creating the content, he said.
However, he added, “we need to get buy in from academics, and organisations such as Unicef and the World Health Organisation to validate and give the seal of approval.”