Will Support Healthcare and Agriculture Technology Initiatives in Ghana and Uganda
Washington, D.C., March 5, 2009—Grameen Foundation today announced it has received two grants totaling more than $4.7 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support technology initiatives aimed at improving healthcare delivery in Ghana and providing information services to poor rural farmers in Uganda.
“Mobile devices are fast becoming the channel for sharing a wide range of information and knowledge across the developing world, but the focus has been more on high-end devices,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “We hope our initiatives in Ghana and Uganda will show how basic mobile phones can be tools for providing services that benefit the rural poor and other disadvantaged communities.”
One grant will support the development of mobile applications that will enable healthcare workers to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery and increase the range of services available in these communities. A team from Grameen Foundation's Technology Center will be working with Ghana Health Service officials and researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in the country's Dangbe West region to develop and test applications that could eventually be made available across the country.
One application will allow nurses, who currently spend roughly 30 percent of their time entering patient information into paper-based reports, to collect and transmit data more efficiently using their mobile phones. This will allow them to spend more time providing primary care services to patients, and will also give the Ghana Health Service more timely and accurate information that will help improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system. The team will also develop additional applications based on the findings of research into other critical health information needs of the communities.
The second grant will help to lay the groundwork for building a network of Community Knowledge Workers as “information hubs” for smallholder farmers in Uganda and assessing their impact. Leveraging its experience in establishing that country's successful Village Phone initiative, Grameen Foundation will recruit and train Village Phone Operators, agricultural extension agents, and other individuals living and working in rural communities to build the network. The Community Knowledge Workers will use mobile phones to disseminate critical agricultural information to farmers, link them to markets and other key resources and collect information about the communities' needs.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. Its global microfinance network and technology initiatives reach an estimated 45 million people in 28 countries across Asia, Africa, the Americas, and, through Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance, Ltd., in the Arab World. Based in Washington, D.C., Grameen Foundation was founded in 1997 by Alex Counts, who began his work in microfinance with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank. Dr. Yunus is a founding and current member of Grameen Foundation's board of directors. For more information on Grameen Foundation, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.