On Monday, the mHealth Alliance awarded Dr. Richard Gakuba of Rwanda with the inaugural Holly Ladd mHealth Pioneer Award. I was honored to present Dr. Gakuba with the award at a dinner celebrating the Alliance’s fifth anniversary. In the span of just a few years, the mHealth Alliance has helped raise the profile and credibility of mHealth, making it now broadly accepted in global health. Visionary champions from around the world, like Dr. Gakuba, have helped accelerate this progress by recognizing the potential of mHealth and demonstrating its transformative power on health systems globally.

Dr. Richard Gakuba has been a close partner and collaborator with The Rockefeller Foundation, and his insights have informed our programming far beyond Rwanda. He joined a series of eHealth discussions atthe Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy in 2008, where he demonstrated his leadership by helping participants think about how idealized health information systems can actually have impact on the ground.

In the following years, as eHealth coordinator in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Gakuba was instrumental in bringing about a transformation of Rwanda’s eHealth strategy and operations. He led the Rwanda Health Enterprise Architecture (RHEA) project, which connects clinics from rural areas to national-level health information systems, and helped convene and align major stakeholders around a common approach and common standards.

Dr. Gakuba was honored for his pioneering work, which led to the creation and implementation of a national eHealth strategy for Rwanda – a strategy that has created an environment to enable mHealth projects succeed and scale. His work has helped improve health care delivery and affordability in Rwanda, and today Dr. Gakuba is widely viewed as a global thought leader in the eHealth and mHealth space.

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