The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) will broaden an existing scheme to collect mother and child health data via mobile phone to additional poor municipalities in the Philippines.

The scheme is aimed at health workers who will upload data via mobile phone as an alternative to paper-based collection.

The extension will add to the existing Community Health Information Tracking System project launched earlier this year by the organisation in partnership with local mobile operator Globe and the University of the Philippines-Manila National Telehealth Center.

The current rollout is backed by PHP1 million (US$25,000) of support from Globe. It is unclear how many people will be covered by the additional deployment to eight municipalities. Unicef’s target is to  cover 30 of the country’s municipalities.

“Monitoring and data collection has historically been seen by some development partners as an unattractive beneficiary of funds,” said Willibald Zeck, the chief of health and nutrition for Unicef Philippines, quoted in GMA News. It is to Globe's credit that they saw the value of the scheme, said Zeck.

Globe’s support to date has included mobile phones and SIMs. Going forward, its support will involve additional handsets as well as unlimited subscription for SMS and calls to Globe numbers for the health workers, as well as a capacity-build for the system and access to the operator’s Textconnect facility, a web-based service which enables a high volume of SMS to be broadcast, presumably a means to send a single message to all the participants in the scheme.