Women in developing countries are arguably one of the groups most affected by inequality in access to healthcare. It’s especially true for pregnant women and mothers who often struggle with healthcare accessibility, affordability and practicality, says an article in Mashable.
WHO reports that more than 800 women globally die each day from preventable causes related to childbirth and pregnancy. Almost all of those women, a staggering 99%, live in developing countries.
Major complications account for most of these maternal deaths. They include severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, complications during birth and unsafe abortions. Most of these complications are preventable with more access and education for both expectant mothers and healthcare providers.
In developing countries where mobile phones are often accessible, mHealth is proving to be part of the solution to the maternal health crisis. From SMSs educating mothers on what to expect when they’re pregnant to apps helping medical professionals in their quest to provide comprehensive care, mHealth is increasing access in life-saving ways.
Eight apps and mHealth services helping to improve maternal health in developing countries are:
- GiftedMom, providing pregnant women and new mothers with free SMSs to educate them on prenatal care, vaccines and reproductive health and reminders of important pregnancy milestones and health services their newborns should be receiving, and has more than 6,700 users in Cameroon and Nigeria.
- Zero Mothers Die, provides small mobile phones to women in Africa, specifically Ghana, Gabon, Mali, Nigeria, and Zambia, at no cost to them, with the goal to curb e maternal healthcare inaccessibility by using SMSs to provide women living in isolated areas with essential information for having a healthy pregnancy and birth.
- maymay, a free app, sends three tailored health alerts every week to pregnant women, providing tips on having a successful, healthy pregnancy, nutritional advice, explanations of early signs and symptoms of pregnancy, recommendations for safe baby items, catered to a user’s stage in pregnancy and allowing pregnant women to find doctors in their area, sorting by specialty and medical institution.
- Safe Delivery was launched in Ethiopia and Ghana and provides simple instructions to health workers in remote areas on assisting with non-routine births and uses animated videos to provide instruction to health workers, and flashcards, so an attendant can self-assess their knowledge outside of emergency situations.
- MAMA, is for new and expectant mothers in Bangladesh, South Africa, India and Nigeria, where women receive stage-based, culturally sensitive messages two to three times per week addressing three main areas: warning signs, reminders and encouragement.
- Mobile Midwife SMSs and pre-recorded voice messages to help spread information to pregnant women, new mothers and their families in Ghana, with all messages time-specific, providing information relevant to women that hinges on their stage in motherhood.
- Suyojana is a mHealth clinical-decision support system that provides guidance on care throughout all stages of motherhood and houses medical records to helps Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) responsible for tasks like immunisations, referrals and emergency assessment, and who serve as point people for maternal healthcare, can use it to transfer information to databases, helping medical professionals identify regional trends and improve how they serve specific communities.
- Safe Pregnancy and Birth is for expectant mothers in developing countries and provides maternal health knowledge to expectant mothers and healthcare providers, relays information to pregnant women on how to stay healthy during pregnancy, how to recognise pre-natal health concerns, what to do in emergency situations, and has step-by-step instructions for community health workers explaining how to perform procedures such as taking blood pressure, treating someone in shock and stopping bleeding post-birth.
These are likely to become more prevalent across Africa as sustainable, affordable solutions to high priority health goals. New mHealth initiatives will follow them and offer even more solutions.