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Potential adoption of mobile health technologies for public healthcare in Burundi.

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Mobile health (or mHealth) describes the utilisation of wireless mobile communications devices in public and private healthcare. These include, but are not limited to, mobile telephones, personal digital assistants, and patient monitoring devices. Although the outcomes of mHealth interventions in developing countries have generally been assessed as positive, there is a need for designing mHealth interventions that are specifically tailored to the context of individual countries. It is in this context that this research investigates the potential adoption of mHealth technologies to provide healthcare services in Burundi from the institutional level point of view (Burundi’s Ministry of Health and Fight Against AIDS (MoH&A) and the Ministry of Communication (MoC)), users point of view (primary healthcare professionals) and mobile technology point of view (mobile technology providers). Using three theoretical frameworks i.e. the Capabilities Approach (CA) model, the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), this research firstly identifies the determinants and impediments to mHealth adoption in Burundi. It further describes how mHealth could be used to address the current challenges that the Burundi’s Ministry of Health faces in terms of providing public healthcare services. It further proposes a framework for the adoption of mHealth in Burundi. At the institutional level and mobile technology point of view, semi-structured interviews were held with civil servants from the two Ministries and with mobile technology services providers. At the users’ level, a survey was conducted with primary healthcare professionals from 47 primary healthcare centres. Findings reveal that mHealth adoption can contribute to disease prevention, disease management and the provision of quality healthcare in Burundi. Although there is limited knowledge of mHealth capabilities within the Burundi’s public healthcare sector, there is a general willingness towards the adoption of mHealth notwithstanding challenges associated with its adoption. Although DOI construct-related factors such as relative advantage, compatibility, trialability and observability significantly influence the adoption of mHealth in Burundi, complexity does not. In addition, performance expectancy, effort expectancy and facilitating conditions are UTAUT constructs that significantly influence the adoption of mHealth adoption. The research advocates for an integrated and collaborative approach to addressthe impediments to mHealth adoption in Burundi.


Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems and Technology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.