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Formalising ‘informal’ mHealth in Ghana: Opportunities and challenges for Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Mariwah, Simon; Machistey Abane, Albert; Asiedu Owusu, Samuel; Kasim, Adetayo; Robson, Elsbeth; Castelli, Michele; Hampshire, Kate


Simon Mariwah

Albert Machistey Abane

Samuel Asiedu Owusu

Adetayo Kasim

Michele Castelli

Kate Hampshire


While mobile phones promise to be an important tool for bridging the healthcare gaps in resource-poor areas in developing countries, scalability and sustainability of mobile phones for health (mhealth) interventions still remain a major challenge. Meanwhile, health workers are already using their own mobile phones (referred to as ‘informal mhealth’) to facilitate healthcare delivery in diverse ways. Therefore, this paper explores some strategies for integrating ‘informal mHealth’ in the healthcare delivery of Ghana, by highlighting some opportunities and challenges. The study mainly employed a combination of literature review, focus group discussions and key informant interviews with community health nurses (CHNs) and other stakeholders, who were purposively selected from the three ecological zones in Ghana. The study found that, while scale-up of ‘formal mhealth’ remains challenging in Ghana, almost all CHNs in our study are using their personal mobile phones ‘informally’ to bridge healthcare gaps, thereby promoting universal health coverage. This provides opportunities for promoting (or formalising) ‘informal’ mhealth in Ghana, in spite of some practical challenges in the use of personal mobile phones that need to be addressed to ensure sustainable healthcare delivery in the country.


Mariwah, S., Machistey Abane, A., Asiedu Owusu, S., Kasim, A., Robson, E., Castelli, M., & Hampshire, K. (in press). Formalising ‘informal’ mHealth in Ghana: Opportunities and challenges for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Global Public Health, 1-14.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 24, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 25, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 3, 2021
Journal Global Public Health
Print ISSN 1744-1692
Electronic ISSN 1744-1706
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-14
Keywords Informal mhealth; Universal health coverage; Mobile phones; Ghana
Public URL
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Published article (1.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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