International Service Project - Nicaragua, Nova Mobile Health

Nova Mobile Health

Nova Mobile Health: Service Learning that Improves Lives

The Problem

Great distances over unpaved roads, plus a lack of medical facilities means that quality healthcare is often out of reach in the remote communities of Waslala and other regions in Nicaragua—the second poorest nation in the Americas. In response to the challenge of much-needed access, the Nova Mobile Health system was developed in 2010 by Villanova University’s engineering, nursing and business students and faculty.

The Solution

With the use of locally-based, inexpensive cell phones, community health leaders (CHLs) are able to communicate data or questions about patient condition to hospital staff, who then communicate diagnoses or treatment recommendations back to the community. In emergency cases, CHLs can directly text the Ministry of Health nurse for immediate assistance.

Nova Mobile Health

Progress to Date

Teams of Villanova students and faculty have established a working system that covers nearly all of Waslala’s communities.

Among their specific accomplishments:

  • Secured a donation of cell phones and air time from Claro, Nicaragua’s main telecommunications provider
  • Placed in-country office staff, including a project manager, office manager and two nurses who visit the communities to reinforce CHL training
  • Equipped a nurse, who works for Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health in Managua and volunteers on this project, with a computer and modem to access health records
  • Installed a server and backup power system  

The government is now helping to run the Waslala program.


Nova Mobile Health has expanded to include Ville el Carmen, near Managua. There, Villanova is collaborating with the national university—UNAN Managua—to involve its students in volunteering in these communities. 

New regions where pilot studies are underway include La Cruz de Grande, where there is a focus on prenatal health, and La Guna del Perlas, a region of 16,300 people that hopes to replicate Waslala’s program exactly.


In several cases, the Nova Mobile Health system has helped facilitate the safe transport of pregnant women to the hospital when they hemorrhaged during labor. The recovery of these women and their newborns was the result of CHLs texting the Ministry of Health nurse to secure an ambulance.  


As the Nova Mobile Health system continues to expand, long term sustainability is a top priority. Villanova teams are working with local partners and community residents to ensure the program continues after the University transfers project ownership. Funding also remains a concern.

Nova Mobile Health Partners

  • Asociaciûn de Desarrollo Integral y Sostenible
  • Claro (telecommunications provider)
  • Connelly Foundation
  • Halloran Philanthropies
  • Nursing program at Universidad Nacional Autonomous Nicaragua, Matagalpa
  • Electronic and computer engineering program at Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería
  • National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance
  • Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health
  • The people of Waslala

To learn how you can help, contact:

Pritpal Singh, PhD
Professor and Chairman
Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Villanova University
Tel: (610) 519-7378
Fax: (610) 519-4436