A Google search for, “How to have a healthy pregnancy,” returns about 123,000,000 results in 0.38 seconds. Information on the Internet is practically unlimited, and much of the developed world uses that to its advantage. But in the developing world, Internet access is hard to come by, which can leave many questions unanswered for nearly two-thirds of the world that reside in developing countries.
Less than 10 percent of the African population has Internet access, which limits their access to important information. Conversely, nearly 50 percent have mobile phones, and utilize text messaging to communicate. Frontline SMS was created to ensure that the global population has access to vital information provided by aid agencies and news services, despite being offline.
Each year, 350,000 women and girls die from pregnancy or childbirth related issues. Frontline SMS is easily used by health workers to send SMS messages through inexpensive, pre-paid SIM cards without the need for an Internet connection. These messages can provide pregnant women with tips on pregnancy and motherhood or explain ways to mitigate potential risks.
There are 70 million mobile phones in the Philippines, compared to only 7 million land lines throughout the country. This statistic led to the development of a program that educates expectant mothers on healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood; the Mobile e-health System for Safe Motherhood Program was launched in 2010 to help the Philippine Government reach the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015. The program uses mobile phones, more specifically Frontline SMS text messaging, to disseminate vital health information to pregnant women and new mothers.
Women who registered for the program during prenatal checkups received messages on safe pregnancy and delivery, the baby’s phases of development, tips on preparing for labor, common pregnancy issues, breastfeeding, neonatal care, child immunization, and the benefits of hospital versus home childbirth. Any questions raised by mothers were forwarded to their respective midwives, and the midwife’s response was sent, by the system, directly to the mother.
The Mobile e-health System for Safe Motherhood found that the program influenced parents to deliver their children in health facilities rather than at home. It also facilitated the recording of pregnancies and births. This data enables midwives to prepare for pre- and post-natal care in regions where health resources are scarce. Real-time information about pregnancies and births can lead to improvements in maternal care and decreased maternal mortality. Frontline SMS enhances communication in the developing world and lends itself to be an invaluable asset to the health care industry and human welfare, in general.
– Dana Johnson
Sources: Frontline SMS, Women Deliver, Kiwanja.net
Photo Source: Chris Pirillo Blog