Volume 35, Issue 10, Pages 1369-1474 (7 March 2017)
Use of m-Health in polio eradication and other immunization activities in developing countries
Sara S. Kim, Manish Patel, Alan Hinman
Reaching the children that are chronically missed by routine immunization services has been a key pillar of success in achieving progress toward polio eradication. The rapid advancement and accessibility of mobile technology (“mHealth”) in low and lower middle income countries provides an important opportunity to apply novel, innovative approaches to provide vaccine services. We sought to document the use and effectiveness of mHealth in immunization programs in low and lower middle income countries. We particularly focused on mHealth approaches used in polio eradication efforts by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to leverage the knowledge and lessons learned that may be relevant for enhancing ongoing immunization services.
In June 2016, the electronic database PubMed was searched for peer reviewed studies that focused on efforts to improve immunization programs (both ongoing immunization services and supplemental immunization activities or campaigns) through mobile technology in low and lower middle income countries.
The search yielded 317 papers of which 25 met the inclusion criteria. One additional article was included from the hand searching process. mHealth was used for reminder and recall, monitoring and surveillance, vaccine acceptance, and campaign strategic planning. Mobile phones were the most common mobile device used. Of the 26 studies, 21 of 26 studies (80.8%) reported that mHealth improved immunization efforts.
mHealth interventions can effectively enhance immunization services in low and lower middle income countries. With the growing capacity and access to mobile technology, mHealth can be a powerful and sustainable tool for enhancing the reach and impact of vaccine programs.