MomConnect’s improved maternity services
South Africa’s mHealth service, MomConnect has used SMSs to provide pregnant women information with health advice for nearly a year and a half. The team has analysed its compliments and complaints and scrutinised the databases containing information on its operation. The result’s an improved service, showing the benefits of M&E.
In an article in of the Journal of Public Health Policy, The MomConnect mHealth initiative in South Africa: Early impact on the supply side of MCH services, the MomConnect review team from the School of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa National Department of Health (NDoH) and South Africa MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa (SIFSA), says more than 580,000 pregnant women registered on MomConnect, less than half pregnant women booking their pregnancies in South Africa’s public health sector. About 4,170, 0.7%, provided compliments. There were 690 complaints, 0.1%, of which 74% were resolved, leading to better quality such as fewer drug stock-outs and improved behaviour of some health workers.
Once registered, women receive free SMSs linked to the stage of their pregnancy. They receive messages postnatally, linked to the age of their infant, up to one year. Pregnant women can also interact in three ways with a DoH health desk:
- A rating system the day after registration comprising ?ve basic questions about quality
- Women can ask for additional information on any topic about their pregnancy
- They can log a complaint or compliment about the service they’ve received.
These activities should be seen in the context of MomConnect’s aims to:
- Connect pregnant women to health services
- Enable these women to interact with the health system
- Improve service delivery
- Encourage pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics as early as possible, preferably before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The review deals mainly with aims one to three. The findings lay down benchmarks for a subsequent review. Improvements should be expected in the ratio of compliments to complaints by exceeding the 6:1 rate, a general levelling of complaints across the nine provinces and fewer drug stock outs.
Equivalent benchmarks could be set on the socio-economic and health impact on mothers, babies, infant, families and communities of goal four. These are much more challenging to set and to measure, but provide important information.
eHNA reported on the MomConnect presentation at eHealth ALIVE in September. The audience was very responsive.