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Informal m-health: How are young people using mobile phones to bridge healthcare gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Hampshire, Kate; Porter, Gina; Owusu, Samuel Asiedu; Mariwah, Simon; Abane, Albert; Robson, Elsbeth; Munthali, Alister; DeLannoy, Ariane; Bango, Andisiwe; Gunguluza, Nwabisa; Milner, James

Authors

Kate Hampshire

Gina Porter

Samuel Asiedu Owusu

Simon Mariwah

Albert Abane

Alister Munthali

Ariane DeLannoy

Andisiwe Bango

Nwabisa Gunguluza

James Milner

Abstract

The African communications ‘revolution’ has generated optimism that mobile phones might help overcome infrastructural barriers to healthcare provision in resource-poor contexts. However, while formal m-health programmes remain limited in coverage and scope, young people are using mobile phones creatively and strategically in an attempt to secure effective healthcare. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data collected in 2012–2014 from over 4500 young people (aged 8–25 y) in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa, this paper documents these practices and the new therapeutic opportunities they create, alongside the constraints, contingencies and risks. We argue that young people are endeavouring to lay claim to a digitally-mediated form of therapeutic citizenship, but that a lack of appropriate resources, social networks and skills (‘digital capital’), combined with ongoing shortcomings in healthcare delivery, can compromise their ability to do this effectively. The paper concludes by offering tentative suggestions for remedying this situation.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2015
Journal Social science & medicine
Print ISSN 0277-9536
Electronic ISSN 1873-5347
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 142
Pages 90-99
Institution Citation Hampshire, K., Porter, G., Owusu, S. A., Mariwah, S., Abane, A., Robson, E., …Milner, J. (2015). Informal m-health: How are young people using mobile phones to bridge healthcare gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa?. Social science & medicine, 142, (90-99). doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.07.033. ISSN 0277-9536
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.07.033
Keywords Mobile phones; Therapeutic citizenship; Adolescent health; Digital capital; m-health; Ghana; Malawi; South Africa
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953615300496
Copyright Statement Creative Commons Licence: Attribution 4.0 International License. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Social science & medicine, 2015, v.142.

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Copyright Statement
Creative Commons Licence: Attribution 4.0 International License. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/



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