Qualcomm teams on 3G mobile health program for Chinese women factory workers

Wed, 2014-05-28 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Qualcomm – a Council Global Partner -- is teaming with the global nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) on a 3G mobile health program that aims to empower women factory workers in China to better manage and improve their reproductive health.

Women comprise more than 44% of China's overall workforce in the manufacturing sector and make up a greater percent in light manufacturing, such as the garment and textiles industries, according to a press release.

A BSR report found that the majority of women in the sector are 18- to 25-year-old, undereducated migrants who moved from rural areas to cities for jobs. They suffer from poor hygiene, inadequate pre- and post-natal care, sexual violence and exposure to infections and illness, including sexually transmitted and other preventable diseases. The standard of factory clinic support, BSR says varies significantly between factories and few provide adequate health training for women workers.

The Mobilizing HERhealth project that Qualcomm is collaborating on through its Wireless Reach initiative is a mobile version of BSR’s HERhealth initiative. Its objective is to demonstrate how mobile broadband technology can improve the women’s ability to access health care information and services, leading to reduced health risks and enhanced well-being.

The initiative strives to "fill the gap with workplace-based programs providing comprehensive training across a range of health issues such as reproductive health, nutrition, family planning, and increasing access to critical health products and services. In the HERhealth model, women are selected in each factory to serve as peer health educators. They are trained at work and then share what they’ve learned with other women at work, at home and in their communities."

Program collaborators hope that this mobile health solution – being piloted in two Chinese factories to start -- will proliferate throughout China and to other countries with significant populations of women factory workers.

Mobile health technology in smart cities

The Health and Human Services chapter of the Council's Smart Cities Readiness Guide points out that the traditional ways cities approached healthcare are being challenged today by several factors, all of which have converged to place an enormous strain on already tight budgets:

  • Non-communicable chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress, mental health problems have grown significantly in the last decade, and are often concentrated in urban areas.
  • Many regions of the world have inadequate health services that are strained by increasing demand at the same time populations are aging and people are living longer.
  • Urban populations continue to swell around the globe; over half of all people now live in cities and the trend is expected to continue.

The emerging discipline of smarter healthcare – sometimes referred to as e-health or e-Care – uses technology to overcome these challenges (and greatly improve outcomes) in these ways:

  • It broadens and deepens access to health services.
  • It addresses health factors holistically, across a broader range of city services and departments, and by focusing on prevention and healthier living.
  • It supports better cooperation, collaboration and productivity between multidisciplinary and often geo-dispersed teams of health professionals.

The Qualcomm-BSR mobile health project described earlier is an excellent example of how information and communications technologies can be used in smart cities to improve health outcomes. To download a copy of the Readiness Guide, simply complete a free one-time registration.