Mobile HIFA (mHIFA)

Thousands of lives could be saved every day if every mobile phone had basic healthcare information, including and especially first aid, maternal, child health and nutrition information for citizens



The mHIFA Working Group is leading the HIFA community in achieving Mobile Healthcare Information For All, with a focus on information for citizens, parents and children. Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of mobile phones in low and middle income countries (LMICs). This transformation in communication, especially in areas where electricity and infrastructure is scarce, represents a unique opportunity to revolutionise access to health information. Resources such as Where There is No Doctor and the Red Cross First Aid app should be available on every mobile phone, for use as and when needed.

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The mHIFA Working Group (Mobile Healthcare Information For All) is a group of HIFA volunteers who:

  • promote discussion on the HIFA forums on the role of meobile phones in meeting healthcare information needs
  • harness insights and perspectives from HIFA members and integrate these into the HIFA Voices database, together with relevant literature
  • lead the HIFA community in advocacy efforts to improve the availability and use of information on mobile phones.  

The group has a particular focus on the information needs of the general public, and liaises with the HIFA Project on Citizens, Parents and Children

Currently (2018)  the group is working to raise awareness and engage key stakeholders (such as WHO and mobile network operators) to recognise the desirability and feasibility of universal 24/7 access to essential healthcare information, free of charge, on all (or at least most) mobile phones.  In practice, this is likely to mean that the information would be pre-loaded onto handsets before sale and/or or side-loaded onto a micro SD card or smartphone after sale. The former option would provide rapid saturation, while the latter would be slower but could be facilitated by basic wifi technology at health centres and elsewhere.

"Essential health information" means practical guidance for a wide range of healthcare situations commonly experienced in low-resource settings (eg common childhood illnesses, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and first aid), as well as health education (eg promotion of healthy behaviour, nutrition practices). Information should be in a language and format that is readily understood, even for those who are illiterate. 


2018 (May): Presentation at mHealth Conference, Oxford: Mobile Healthcare Information For All (Neil Pakenham-Walsh/mHIFA)

2018 (Apr): Blog: HIFA marks World Health Day with call to target and track progress on universal access to essential healthcare information (Geoff Royston, Martin Carroll, Neil Pakenham-Walsh)

2018 (Apr): Geoff Royston and Chris Zielinski represent HIFA at SDG Indicators conference, Vienna. Propose tracer indicator on access to essential healthcare inforamtion on mobile phones.

2017 (Nov): Blog: Mobile Healthcare Information for All: a simple and affordable early step towards worldwide universal health coverage by 2030 (Geoff Royston, Neil Pakenham-Walsh, mHIFA)

2017 (Jul): Presentation at Digital Health 2017 Conference, London: Rapid Methods to Assess the Potential Impact of Digital Health Interventions, and their Application to Low Resource Settings (Geoff Royston/mHIFA)

2017 (Jan): Report: Assessment of mHealth applications for their potential to provide healthcare information for citizens in low resource settings (Geoff Royston/mHIFA)

2016 (Sep): Poster presentation at Appropriate Health Technologies conference, Oxford: Assessing mobile healthcare information applications for citizens in low-resource settings (Geoff Royston/mHIFA)

2016 (Jul): Collaboration with San Jose State University, USA: Survey of producers of video and animated healthcare information for citizens in LMICs. Presentation of findings. Report of webinar. (Laura Wright & Chris Hagar/mHIFA)

2015 (Dec): Presentation at the Global mHealth Forum, Washington DC: Mobile Healthcare Information for All: Anytime, Anywhere (Nand Wadhwani/mHIFA)

2015 (Jul): Publication in The Lancet Global Health: Mobile Healthcare Information for All: A Global Challenge (mHIFA)

2015: Launch of mHIFA goal in consultation with wider HIFA community: 'By 2017 at least one mobile network operator or mobile handset manufacturer, in at least one low- or middle-income country, will provide access to essential health information for direct use by citizens and free of any charges.' 

2015 (Jan): Review: Ensuring that mHealth applications provide essential healthcare information for citizens in low resource settings (Geoff Royston/mHIFA)

2014 (Sep): Overview: Trends and challenges for mHealth in developing countries. (Geoff Royston/mHIFA) 

2014 (Sep): Paper in Information Development journal: (Mobile) Healthcare Information For All By 2015: Preliminary findings and future direction (Chris Hagar/Heather Kartzinel)

2014 (Jan): Poster presentation at the 2014 BOBCATSSS conference, Barcelona: Mobile Healthcare Information For All (Chris Hagar/mHIFA)

2012: Launch of Project - Concept note


A presentation by Geoff Royston, Expert Adviser, mHIFA working group
Digital Health 2017 Conference, London, 4 July 2017

This report has been prepared for HIFA by Dr Geoff Royston, one of mHIFA’s expert advisers, with advice and assistance from other members of the mHIFA Working Group. It draws from, and builds on, a previous publication: Ensuring that mHealth applications provide essential healthcare information for citizens in low resource settings (2015).


Geoff Royston (Adviser, mHIFA) Healthcare Information For All? Assessing mobile healthcare information applications for citizens in low-resource settings. (Poster presented at Appropriate Healthcare Technologies for Low Resource Settings - AHT2016, Oxford, UK, 5-6 September)


Many of us have been highly impressed by the work of organisations such as Medical Aid Films, Global Health Media Project, SAWBO and others involved in the production of video health content. With this in mind, the Mobile HIFA Working Group (which is dedicated to issues of mobile phone-based healthcare information for citizens, parents and children) carried out a survey of video content producers. The survey was implemented by Laura Wright (Masters in Library and Information Science student) and lecturer Dr Chris Hagar, both of the San Jose State University (USA). (HIFA now has a substantial track record of working with academia in this way - please contact us for details.)



In July 2016 we brought together several producers of health video content to discuss the results of the mHIFA survey and ways forward. Laura Wright opened the meeting with a presentation of the results. The notes of the subsequent discussion are available here


Geoff Royston, Christine Hagar, Lesley-Anne Long, Dennis McMahon, Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Nand Wadhwani on behalf of the mHIFA Working Group (Mobile Healthcare Information For All). The Lancet Global Health, Volume 3, No. 7, e356–e357, July 2015


Citizens in low resource settings need basic healthcare information to prevent and manage disease and injury. In these settings, people may have little or no access to health eduction, and little or no access to a health worker in case of need, and therefore basic information is even more important. The use of mobile communication in these settings is growing hugely, opening up a wide range of actual or potential health related uses of mobile phones, not least the opportunity for major advances in the provision of essential - often life-saving - practical information about health and healthcare to the poorest 2 billion of the world's population. 


A presentation at the Global mHealth Forum, Washington DC, 12 November 2015,  delivered by Nand Wadhwani on behalf of the mHIFA Working Group. 



This overview focuses particularly on applications of mHealth to provide information about health and health care for the public, patients, lay carers and health professionals. Geoff Royston, September 2014 (PDF, 1Mb)


Dr. Christine Hagar, an assistant professor at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Library and Information Science, addressed the Healthcare Information For All by 2015 (HIFA2015) mHealth goal (mHIFA) during a poster showing at the 2014 BOBCATSSS conference in Barcelona. She explained the need for mobile access to healthcare information at the point of need in low-income countries where healthcare workers may not be available. 


(Mobile) Healthcare Information For All By 2015: Preliminary findings and future direction
Information Development 32(3) · September 2014 
DOI: 10.1177/0266666914550493

Abstract: This paper reports on the Mobile Healthcare Information For All By 2015 (mHIFA) initiative led by the Health Information For All 2015 (HIFA2015) 2012-2015 Challenge Working Group. It discusses the preliminary findings of a scoping exercise to identify global current, completed and planned projects that use mobile phones to provide healthcare information, particularly maternal, child and first-aid, in low- and middle-income countries, that appear to be aligned to the mHIFA Goal. Despite a plethora of mHealth projects on a wide range of mHealth topics, only nine projects were closely related to the mHealthcare Goal. Findings of the scoping exercise were made available on the HIFA2015 Discussion Forums to instigate feedback from key healthcare and telecom stakeholders. An assessment tool was created to help telecom providers and potential providers to assess relevance to the mHIFA Goal.


The mHIFA SMART Goal emerged from discussions on the wider HIFA community. It is led by the mHIFA Working Group, which is specifically concerned with the health information needs of citizens, parents and children, in recognition of the huge (and largely unrealised) potential of mobile phones to meet basic healthcare information needs of citizens, parents and children.

Name sort descending Country
Amanda Puckett BenDor United States
Chikezie Emele United Kingdom
Chris Paton United Kingdom
Chris Hagar United States
Clare Hanbury United Kingdom
Daniel Stern Tanzania
Didier Demassosso Cameroon
Geoff Royston United Kingdom
Jessica Ports Robbins United States
John Eastwood Australia
Kate Thomas Liberia
Kokaale Amissah-Aidoo United States
Luther-King Fasehun Nigeria
Neil Pakenham-Walsh United Kingdom
Oluwatosin Olaiya United States
Omar Abou-Samra United States
Owoyemi Ayomide Nigeria
Ozge Karadag Caman Turkey
Peter Benjamin South Africa
Sarah Shannon United States
Tatjana Kobb Qatar
Tawnia Litwin United States