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Scale-up and Sustainability of mHealth Programs: Online Discussion Forum March 18-22

Scale-up and Sustainability of mHealth Programs: Online Discussion Forum March 18-22

This is a guest post by Laura Raney, the Senior Technical Officer at FHI 360 and co-founder and co-chair of the mHealth Working Group.

Co-hosted by the mHealth Working Group and the mHealth Alliance, this online discussion forum aims to gather input from the global community about their opinions on and experience with scale-up and sustainability. The discussion follows the recent Skoll World Forum debate series on Moving beyond Pilotitis.

Experts representing a variety of organizations will address the following questions:

  • What does it mean to design for scale and sustainability?
  • Does designing for scale and sustainability alleviate ‘pilotitis’?
  • What are the drawbacks of designing for scale and sustainability from the beginning (particularly for new mHealth programs)?

Some of the experts participating will be:

  • Kirsten Gagnaire, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)
  • Alain Labrique, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health
  • Garrett Mehl, WHO
  • Steve Ollis, D-TreePamela Riley, Abt Associates
  • Kelly Keisling, NetHope
  • Shariq Kohja, mHealth Alliance
  • Jon Payne, mHealth Alliance
  • Jon Jackson, Dimagi
  • Merrick Schaefer, World Bank
  • Brendan Smith, Vital Wave

The upcoming forum will expand on the mHealth Working Group’s discussion forum from earlier this year. The active, five-day discussion centered on themes of the draft brief “mHealth: Emerging High-Impact Practices for Family Planning.” Community members shared their experiences with mHealth projects and traded tips and links to helpful tools and resources. A total of 37 participants representing more than 12 countries and 22 organizations made 52 contributions to the discussion.

To participate in the forum from March 18-22, 2013, simply reply directly to any forum-related emails. If you’re not a member of the mHealth Working Group listserv, sign up at If you have any questions about how to participate, email Allison Bland at

The mHealth Working Group is a collaborative forum for sharing knowledge and developing promising practices on mobile technology for health. Founded in 2009 with global health organizations, the Working Group frames mHealth within global health strategies and standards. The mHealth Working Group is facilitated and supported by USAID’s K4Health Project. The Working Group holds regular meetings in Washington, DC, to discuss promising approaches, challenges, and lessons learned. The group promotes approaches that are appropriate, evidence-based, interoperable, scalable, and sustainable in resource-poor settings. Over 950 representatives of more than 200 organizations in 45 countries participate in the mHealth Working Group.

The mHealth Alliance advances mHealth through policy research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. Working with diverse partners, the mHA sponsors events and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (HealthUnBound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. An idea that emanated from a July 2008 conference in Bellagio, Italy on the future of mHealth, the mHealth Alliance was ultimately launched at the GSM Association Mobile World Congress in February 2009 by the United Nations Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Vodafone Foundation.

Photo: Courtesy of m4RH program


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