At a joint meeting of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Malaria and NTDs and Population and Development to mark International Women’s Day, Malaria Consortium gave a presentation on how text messages could help increase the uptake of life saving services for pregnant women, to a packed audience of parliamentarians, academia and civil society.
Malaria in pregnancy accounts for up to 25 percent of maternal deaths and causes 900,000 low birth weight deliveries in Africa each year. This is despite it being largely preventable through the provision of antimalarial drugs during pregnancy, together with mosquito nets and effective diagnosis and treatment. Intermittent preventative treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) administered via antenatal care services (ANC) is recommended across sub Saharan Africa, however uptake remains low despite relatively high levels of ANC attendance. It is clear, therefore, that there are some barriers to women taking this life saving intervention.
The presentation featured Malaria Consortium’s novel pilot study, carried out as part of the COMDIS-HSD research consortium and funded by UK Aid, which was carried out in West Nile, Uganda. It trialled the use of text messages (mHealth) to improve health worker knowledge and change behaviour, complimenting classroom based training, in order to determine whether this would have a corresponding impact on IPTp uptake.
The results from this pilot study are encouraging; indicating that complimenting classroom training with text messages is feasible, accepted and effective at improving health worker performance and increased coverage of IPTp.
You can download the presentation, given by COMDIS-HSD Project Coordinator Christian Rassi, here.