Learning the ABCs of pregnancy and newborn care through mobile technology.

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Publication Date: 
Dec 17, 2015

BACKGROUND: The diffusion of mobile phones in low- and middle-income countries has taken place faster than any other infrastructural development. Mobile Midwife, a mobile application implemented in Ghana in 2010, sends timely messages in local languages to registered expectant mothers and new parents. The field of mobile health (mHealth) is severely underresearched, yet it can be an alternative for improving health systems and the ways in which health services are delivered.

OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to investigate the role that Mobile Midwife technology has played in the lives of pregnant and nursing mothers in Awutu Senya District, Ghana.

DESIGN: A total of three focus group discussions and 19 individual interviews were conducted. Discussions and interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim from the local language to English, and analyzed by means of qualitative content analysis at the manifest and latent levels.

RESULTS: The main findings show that while oscillating between modern and traditional practices, women gradually gained trust in Mobile Midwife's counselling and attempted to balance between myths and reality regarding nutrition in pregnancy. In addition, their decisions to seek essential obstetric care were enhanced by Mobile Midwife's advice. Women also felt strengthened in their understanding of the importance of seeking professional care during pregnancy and childbirth as well as recognizing signs of ill health in the newborn.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that Mobile Midwife could be an excellent tool in working towards the improvement of maternal health. Mobile Midwife will hopefully contribute to the stepwise achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals extended from the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of 2015. There is a need for strong political will from key stakeholders, to embark in the field of mHealth as a complementary means to strengthen health systems.

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