A comparative review of mobile health and electronic health utilization in sub-Saharan African countries

Brandford Bervell, Hosam Al-Samarraie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


This study distinguished between the application of e-health and m-health technologies in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries based on the dimensions of use, targeted diseases or health conditions, locations of use, and beneficiaries (types of patients or health workers) in a country specific context. It further characterized the main opportunities and challenges associated with these dimensions across the sub-region. A systematic review of the literature was conducted on 66 published peer reviewed articles. The review followed the scientific process of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines of identification, selection, assessment, synthesis and interpretation of findings. The results of the study showed that m-health was prevalent in usage for promoting information for treatment and prevention of diseases as well as serving as an effective technology for reminders towards adherence. For e-health, the uniqueness lay in data acquisition and patients’ records management; diagnosis; training and recruitment. While m-health was never used for monitoring or training and recruitment, e-health on the other hand could not serve the purpose of reminders or for reporting cases from the field. Both technologies were however useful for adherence, diagnosis, disease control mechanisms, information provision, and decision-making/referrals. HIV/AIDS, malaria, and maternal (postnatal and antenatal) healthcare were important in both m-health and e-health interventions mostly concentrated in the rural settings of South Africa and Kenya. ICT infrastructure, trained personnel, illiteracy, lack of multilingual text and voice messages were major challenges hindering the effective usage of both m-health and e-health technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date24 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Social Science and Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Social Science and Medicine, 232 (2019) DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.04.024

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • e-health
  • Healthcare delivery
  • m-Health
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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