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Stimulating innovations

Through the stimulating innovations theme, FHS is testing new models of service delivery with government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) interested in improving the quality, coverage and affordability of health services to disadvantaged populations.

Recent FHS publications on 'stimulating innovations'


Khatun F, Heywood AE, Hanifi SM, Rahman MS, Ray PK, Liaw ST and Bhuiya A (2017) Gender differentials in readiness and use of mHealth services in a rural area of Bangladesh, BMC health services research, 17:573, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-017-2523-6

Traditional gender roles result in women lagging behind men in the use of modern technologies, especially in developing countries. Although there is rapid uptake of mobile phone use in Bangladesh, investigation of gender differences in the ownership, access and use of mobile phones in general and mHealth in particular has been limited. This paper presents gender differentials in the ownership of mobile phones and knowledge of available mHealth services in a rural area of Bangladesh.

Khatun F, Heywood AE, Ray PK, Bhuiya A, Liaw S-T (2016) Community readiness for adopting mHealth in rural Bangladesh: A qualitative exploration, International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 93, pp 49–56, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2016.05.010

There are increasing numbers of mHealth initiatives in middle and low income countries aimed at improving health outcomes. Bangladesh is no exception with more than 20 mobile health (mHealth) initiatives in place. A recent study in Bangladesh examined community readiness for mHealth using a framework based on quantitative data. Given the importance of a framework and the complementary role of qualitative exploration, this paper presents data from a qualitative study which complements findings from the quantitative study.

The objective of this brief is to introduce the Photovoice method, highlight how it helped capture the voices of mothers in the Sundarbans, and demonstrate how the method can bridge the gap between communities and local decision-makers. 

Husain, L (2016) Looking for ‘New Ideas That Work’: county innovation in China’s health system reforms—the case of the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 25, Issue 99, pages 438-452, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2015.1104911

The article presents a case study of a low tech and ‘second best’ reimbursement mechanism developed sub-nationally under the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, China’s rural health insurance framework, and its spread and incorporation into national policy. It argues for the importance of local government development of ‘appropriate’ policy mechanisms (jizhi) as underpinning central reforms and system adaptation.

Since the beginning of reforms in the late 1970s, China has developed rapidly, transforming itself into a middle-income country, raising hundreds of millions out of poverty and, latterly, developing broad-based social protection systems. The country’s approach to reform has been unorthodox, leading many to talk of a specific Chinese model of development. This paper analyses the role of innovation (chuangxin) and experimentation in the Chinese government repertoire and their contribution to management of change during the rapid, complex and interconnected reforms that China is undergoing. 

Waldman, L. and Stevens, M. (2015) Sexual and reproductive health and rights and mHealth in policy and practice in South Africa, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol 23, Issue 45, PP 93 - 102, doi:10.1016/j.rhm.2015.06.009

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offers enormous opportunity and innovation to improve public health and health systems.This paper explores the intersections between mHealth and sexual and reproductive health and rights in both policy and practice. It is a qualitative study, informed by policy review and key informant interviews. Three case studies provide evidence of what is happening on the ground in relation to ICTs and reproductive health and rights.

The health system of Bangladesh is haunted by challenges of accessibility and affordability. Despite impressive gains in many health indicators, recent evidence has raised concerns regarding the utilization, quality and equity of healthcare. In the context of new and unfamiliar public health challenges including high population density and rapid urbanization, eHealth and mHealth are being promoted as a route to cost-effective, equitable and quality healthcare in Bangladesh. The aim of this paper is to highlight such initiatives and understand their true potential.

There is growing enthusiasm amongst analysts of global health for the possibilities opened up by the rapid spread of mobile phone coverage. This includes substantially increasing access to health-related information and advice and to expert medical consultations.This report presents a snapshot of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are influencing health system development in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has a serious shortage of physicians, paramedics, nurses, and midwives. The available qualified care providers are centred in urban areas, resulting in an inequitable access of the rural and disadvantaged sections of the population to healthcare. Under these circumstances, the use of mHealth meaning provision of healthcare services through mobile devices provides a new opportunity to ensure access to quality healthcare services for the population in general, and for people from poorer sections and hard-to-reach areas in particular. There are currently around 20 mHealth service initiatives in the country which are mostly telephone hotlines for consulting physicians and/or obtaining healthcare information. Effectiveness of these services depends on the evidence-informed development of appropriate programmes designed around people’s perceptions of mHealth and user feedback. To that end, FHS Bangladesh partner, ICDDR,B recently conducted a survey on mHealth in Chakaria, a rural area in the southeast coastal area of Bangladesh. This brief presents the findings from this survey.