To ensure healthy outcomes in under-served communities, households need to be able to access essential information and services for pregnant mothers and their children.
UNICEF and partners have demonstrated that integrating mobile technologies into health systems can help overcome bottlenecks. The strategic use of technology can solve problems of time, distance and coordination in the delivery of health services. Capturing transactions in real-time allows for aggregation of data at district and national levels, leading to real-time programme management.
Safe Pregnancy and Delivery
This RapidSMS system is designed to improve antenatal and neonatal service delivery at the village level. The system helps community health workers track pregnancies, report on danger signs during pregnancy, subscribe to emergency alerts to ensure that women can access emergency obstetric care, and provides a real-time national surveillance mechanism for maternal health. Rwanda has deployed this system nation-wide.
Patient Tracing and Results Delivery
The Mwana Initiative has improved test result turn-around time by over 50%. It delivers early infant diagnosis (HIV) results to rural and under-served communities in Zambia and Malawi via text messages rather than paper. Community Health Workers also register births and trace patients via SMS to ensure that they receive key childhood interventions.
AnthroWatch can either be used for nutritional surveys – especially in food insecure countries – or as an ongoing nutritional monitoring tool. The system provides feedback on the child’s status and tracks the child’s progress over time, as well as aggregating the data at a national level. It also addresses issues of loss-to-follow-up by alerting staff to children who have missed appointments.
Health Information and Reminders
Working with the NGO Text to Change, UNICEF Uganda is in the process of rolling out a system to increase demand for antenatal services, improve PMTCT adherence, and monitor medical service delivery. Mothers, their partners or caregivers, and village health workers can sign up to receive SMS reminders about antenatal visits, health tips and best childcare practices.
Health Systems Management
M-Trac is a SMS-based disease surveillance and medicine tracking system. It provides real-time data for response while monitoring health service delivery performance. The initiative also integrates governance and accountability through citizen feedback, an anonymous hotline and public dialogue sessions. UNICEF Uganda and the Ministry of Health are currently rolling this out nationwide (2012-2014).
Coordination, Monitoring and Accountability Tools
DevTrac is a tool for monitoring development investments made in a country. Via an online map, national data and real-time information on development projects are made available for analysis, accountability and advocacy. It is currently used by UNICEF, but in 2012 it will expand to other donor and government partners.
uReport uses free SMS (texting) to hear from young people in remote area. As of June 2012, over 120,000 young Ugandans were signed up. They receive weekly polls to their phones on community services and youth issues, and in return receive results and useful facts for action. The Government of Uganda publishes results in newspapers, radio and television.