mobile phones

Several studies have shown effectiveness of SMS interventions to improve health workers’ practices, patients’ adherence to medications and availability of health facility commodities. To inform policymakers about the feasibility of facility-based SMS interventions, the coverage data on mobile phone ownership and SMS use among health workers and patients are needed. In 2012, a national, cross-sectional, cluster sample survey was undertaken at 172 public health facilities in Kenya. Outpatient health workers (219) and caregivers of sick children and adult patients (1,177) were interviewed. Mobile phone ownership and SMS use are ubiquitous among Kenyan health workers in the public sector. Among the patients they serve, phone ownership and SMS use are lower, and disparities exist with respect to gender, age, education, literacy, urbanization and poverty. Some of the disparities in SMS use can be addressed through mHealth interventions and enhanced implementation processes, while further growth in mobile phone ownership is needed to reduce the gap.

In this work, we demonstrate identity verification and concentration determination of pharmaceutical compounds via TLC using a custom 3D-printed cradle that interfaces with an ordinary mobile phone. Using single-component solutions of nevirapine, amodiaquine, and paracetamol that have been manually applied, the mobile phone-based detection instrument provides measurements that are equivalent to those obtained with a commercially available lab-based desktop TLC densitometer.

A pilot project, implemented in 2 rural districts of Malawi between 2010 and 2011, introduced a mobile phone system to strengthen knowledge exchange within networks of CHWs and district staff. To evaluate the mobile phone intervention, a participatory evaluation method called Net-Map was used. At baseline, community health workers were not mentioned as actors in the information network, while at endline they were seen to have significant connections with colleagues, beneficiaries, supervisors, and district health facilities, as both recipients and providers of information. Focus groups with CHWs complemented the Net-Map findings with reports of increased self-confidence and greater trust by their communities. These qualitative results were bolstered by surveys that showed decreases in stock-outs of essential medicines, lower communication costs, wider service coverage, and more efficient referrals. As an innovative, participatory form of social network analysis, Net-Map yielded important visual, quantitative, and qualitative information at reasonable cost.

Effective surveillance systems are required to track malaria testing and treatment practices. A 26-week study “SMS for Life” was piloted in five rural districts of Kenya to examine whether SMS reported surveillance data could ensure real-time visibility of accurate data and their use by district managers to impact on malaria case-management. The study demonstrated the feasibility of using simple mobile phone text messages to transmit timely surveillance data from peripheral health facilities to higher levels. However, accuracy of data reported was suboptimal. Future work should focus on improving quality of SMS reported surveillance data.

A demonstration project (January 2010 to June 2011) in Malawi improved the exchange and use of family planning/reproductive health and HIV/AIDS knowledge among health workers using a short message service (SMS) network.

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