Title of Work

Is Mobile Technology Effective in the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases in Low Middle Income Countries?: A Systematic Review

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

April 2020

Conference Location

Washington DC


Background: Despite large efforts toward the eradication of infectious diseases around the world, many continue to be a major cause of global mortality. This is particularly true in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where infectious diseases are responsible for more than 50% of all deaths. As mobile phone penetration has exceeded other infrastructure in LMICs, mobile technology has become a tool in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Objective: The aim of this review is to document how mobile technology is used in LMICs in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and evaluate their effectiveness. Methods: Using Cochrane guidelines, we searched Pubmed and CINAHL databases to retrieve English language articles published in peer-reviewed journals from 2005 to 2019. Search terms were designed to capture articles that described using mHealth to treat or prevent an infectious disease in a LMIC. Interventions and prospective observational studies with pre and post test data were included in the review. Findings: In total, we identified 847 articles, and of those, 16 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. All of the studies used mobile phone technology with the majority (N=11) implementing short message service (SMS) notifications to aide in treatment or prevention. Most of the studies (N=10) focused on disease treatment versus prevention. Over half of the studies (N=10, 63%) reported no significant change in measured patient outcomes, (i.e. treatment success rates, cure proportions, reported knowledge) when comparing mobile technology interventions to the standard practice. However, some studies showed that SMS decreases loss to follow-up and more timely immunization. Many of those articles noted lack of network service in implementation areas as well as a small sample size limiting the power of the studies.Interpretation: Mobile phones are commonly used for health education, behavior change communication, treatment adherence and follow up in LMICs. However, using these interventions to treat or prevent infectious diseases do not always improve patient outcomes. Future interventions should be carefully designed. As technology and use of mobile phones becomes more widespread, there may be other advantages to using mobile technology.

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