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We talk about digital health for underserved communities at the GSMA Mobile World Congress

The 2018 GSMA Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, put health, emerging markets and the digital gender gap firmly on the global mobile industry’s agenda.

As part of the Ministerial programme, Every1Mobile’s Katherine van Wyk spoke about the use of digital communities to deliver health outcomes for underserved communities.

The fireside chat, facilitated by the IFC, World Bank, explored the meaning of Digital Communities and how these can be an extension of physical support networks and health services, or fill a gap where these are inaccessible due to distance, affordability or other barriers such as cultural norms or stigma.

Digital communities can be leveraged to provide access to life-saving and life-enhancing health information, peer support or professional advice, safe spaces to learn and share experiences and find local services.

During the discussion, Unilever and Every1Mobile’s joint programme in Kenya called Ujoin was acclaimed as an example of innovative market-led solutions for health outcomes. Ujoin mobilises small shopkeepers as agents of change and equips them with mobile tools to improve their financial and business knowledge and enhance business productivity.

Katherine discussed how UJoin has been able to demonstrate success with shopkeepers via the online community. These include:
ACCESSIBILITY: considering connectivity and the continued use of feature phones over smart phones in low-income communities.
2-WAY COMMUNICATIONS: Interactive, action-orientated and participatory features and content increases engagement and value for users. It also increases the ability for digital communities to be a catalyst to nudge real-world actions and positive change in attitudes and behaviours.
LOCALISED & USER-CENTRED: Content needs to be applicable, accessible and relevant in its editorial tone and style and the core value proposition of the digital community must align to the needs and interests of the people you are serving.

The Congress convened a range of stakeholders, including policy makers, government agencies and private sector actors. Participants were encouraged to play a vital partnership role in leveraging mobile for improved healthcare by committing to the continued expansion of connectivity, digital literacy of youth and particularly women.