Technology for Maternal and Child Health (T4MCH)
In Ghana, 11% of female deaths occur during childbirth. In Northern Ghana, maternal mortality is even higher. Multiple barriers to good maternal health care are common. Inadequate roads and poor infrastructure in some districts combine with local customs and a lack of information to contribute to high maternal mortality rates (MMRs). Faced with this situation, reducing MMR has become a top priority for the Ghanaian Government and the Ghanaian Health Service.
In response, Savana Signatures has introduced innovation into maternal and child health (MCH) delivery systems through the use of mobile phones. This will make maternal health information easily accessible to expectant mothers and their families. Beneficiaries in the Technology for Maternal and Child Health (T4MCH) program sign up to receive weekly text or voice messages about MCH.
Midwives and health staff in 33 health clinics in the Northern, Upper West and Volta Regions are working with women and their families to attend ANC, deliver at clinics and attend PNC. The project encourages men as partners in MCH as well.
T4MCH works in nine local languages spoken throughout three regions of Ghana and voice messaging will reach the high number of mothers who only speak local languages. Text messages will be in English.
Through Knowledge Sharing Sessions, T4MCH will also use ICT equipment to educate expectant mothers and their families. Medical staff will be given ICT training to conduct Knowledge Sharing Sessions (KSS) on MCH issues such as the benefits of regular ANC and PNC attendance, facility delivery, nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding and safe practices. This will be organized at the facility and community level. KSS will promote feedback from health staff to women and their families and also create opportunity for sharing experiences and learning.
In addition to SMS and voice messaging, T4MCH will pilot electronic charting to improve health staff’s access to patient information. E-charting will use mobile phones and laptops to centralize women’s health information while making it accessible from different facilities and improving patient confidentiality. E-charting will promote interaction between the health staff and women, thereby improving their relationship.
30,000 pregnant women will directly benefit from increased access to health facilities, increased knowledge for healthy pregnancies, safe childbirth and regular attendance at ANC and PNC appointments. 30,000 infants born to these women will benefit from health facility deliveries under the care of a qualified midwife, and follow-up postnatal care including vaccinations. Husbands of pregnant women in the T4MCH program are targeted beneficiaries as well, since they are important decision-makers about their wife’s health.
T4MCH’s monitoring system includes a qualitative component that captures the stories of 20 women expecting for the first time, from their pregnancy to their babies’ thirty-month milestone. These Mothers’ Stories will ensure that the implementation of the project is grounded in their everyday realities, and that messages and activities respond to their needs.
T4MCH is implemented by Savana Signatures in collaboration with Salasan Consulting Inc. and Mustimuhw Solutions, an e-health organization owned by the Cowichan Tribes of British Columbia. Funding is provided by Global Affairs Canada.
Technology for Maternal Health Project
T4MCH is an extension of Savana Signature’s successful pilot project T4MH with the addition of targeting child health. The idea to use technology in maternal health delivery was piloted by Savana Signatures in 2011 through partnership with the Northern Regional Library Authority and the International Federation for Electronic Libraries in three hospitals in Tamale. T4MH created Maternal Health Corners inside hospitals to make maternal health information easily accessible to midwives and community health nurses.
Between 2012 – 2014, Savana Signatures received funding from STAR-Ghana to scale up the project to three additional hospitals. Maternal health messages were translated into Dagbani and Gonja to meet the needs of women who weren’t literate in English.
During the two-year implementation, Savana Signatures contributed to reducing maternal mortality by 6.6% in the project health facilities. This was an increase of 1.6% over the project target of 5%. The hospitals also recorded a significant increase in ANC attendance.
In 2015, the project was scaled up again to five additional health facilities in the Northern Region (Gushegu, Bimbila and Salaga districts hospitals, Daboya Poly Clinic and Buipe Health Center) through support from Cordaid and the Connect for Change Consortium. The Likpaakpa and Hausa languages were again added improve information delivery to beneficiaries.