Maternal Health Plus: Reducing maternal mortality in Nigeria through cell phones

Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Many Nigerian women lack access to basic health information, prenatal care and professional assistance during childbirth. A majority, however, have access to mobile phones.

The second initiative we’ve been supporting is a pilot research study in Osun State, Nigeria focused on determining whether a text messaging campaign linking pregnant women with health information and community health extension workers improves access to prenatal care and health outcomes. This initiative is the brainchild of Oluwatosin Omole, a Nigerian physician determined to reduce maternal mortality in his country. He believes that improved access to health information via text messaging, including reminders to seek prenatal care, will encourage women to attend prenatal care, and improve their overall chances of a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

In collaboration with researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University, pregnant women from two primary care centres in Osun State will be recruited to participate. Of those who accept to participate, half will be randomized to receive free, weekly text messages providing health information appropriate for their stage of pregnancy and reminders to attend prenatal clinics. Participants will also be able to submit questions about their health free-of-charge via text messaging to community health extension workers supported by healthcare professionals.

We feel pilot studies such as this are important in determining whether maternal health promotion campaigns using text messages are an effective tool in tackling the burden of maternal mortality and improving access to information and prenatal care. This pilot study should add further information to the growing body of evidence…

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