Use of smartphones: a new indicator?

6 April, 2022

A recent paper by Gindo Tampubolon ( Climate change, birth weight and smartphone: handsome digital dividends reprinted in ICTWorks provides some evdence that mothers in Indonesia who use smartphones have healthier babies. This is worth noting, because it is a rare new indicator for how information resources can improve health.

It also ties in with the effort some HIFA members (Pakenham-Walsh, Royston and Zielinski) undertook just before the pandemic to introduce a mobile-telephony indicator into the SDGs. (This process is still pending a supporting statement from WHO to the Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs)).

As the promotion of health information for development continues to face the problem of a lack of indicators (which inhibits fund-raising, among other things), this paper is particularly welcome. It is interesting to put this indicator next to the earlier finding that the more education mothers have, the healthier their babies (for a "Northern" perspective,, see Perhaps the overarching social determinant of health here is the financial status of the family.

Do list members have any ideas regarding other possible indicators to measure how health information resources can and do improve health?

Chris Zielinski

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Research publications:

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT

His publications are at and and his blogs are and