Mobile Technology to Increase ANC Attendance and IPTp Uptake in Uganda

On April 5th 2011 the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health observed Global Health Day. A key event was a series of poster presentations by students who had won global health grants to undertake field projects. Several were on malaria.  We are fortunate that the presentation below has been shared with us. Hopefully more will follow.

campaign-overview_002-sm.jpgUse of Mobile Technology to Increase ANC Attendance and IPTp Uptake – Results from a Pilot Study in Uganda
Hsin-yi Lee, MSPH Candidate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

In search of innovative ways to increase IPTp uptake, the Stop Malaria Project (SMP) in Uganda wished to investigate whether mobile technology can be part of the solution. With nearly 42% of the population owning a mobile phone, mobile technology has demonstrated its incredible potential creates an impact at scale.

The SMP SMS pilot campaign was designed to address the issue of irregular Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance and low uptake of IPTp by sending out text message reminders to pregnant women and their close contact. The program was piloted at four facilities in Mukono District with 327 pregnant enrolled during their first antenatal visit.

Results from a post-campaign survey shows that after adjusting for control variables, program exposure remained a significant factor to determining ANC and IPTp completion rates. Respondents who received three to four messages had the highest odds for completing their ANC visits and were five times more likely to complete two doses of IPTp compared to those that received less than two messages.

Results also show that women whose husband or other contact had talked to them about the messages had higher ANC completion rates. The husband felt a “shared responsibility” about the women’s antenatal care by receiving the message on his phone. An unexpected outcome of the campaign was the clients increased trust towards the facility and health providers. Respondents from the survey had talked about how the messages showed that “the providers were responsible” and “caring.”

p1050929-sm.jpgThe Pilot SMS Campaign has demonstrated that text messages can play an effective role in promoting antenatal care attendance and uptake of IPTp. However, voice messaging methods should be further explored to overcome the issue of illiteracy. How to integrate a mobile health component into routine antenatal care in a resource limit setting is another pressing issue for program scale-up.

Further reading for similar mhealth programs:

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