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Mobile Moms - Liga Inan

Posted: Jan 20, 2012 · Posted by: HAI

Health Alliance International (HAI) is pleased to announce the launch of a new program “Mobile Moms—Liga Inan.” With support from USAID’s Child Survival and Health Grants Program and in partnership with Catalpa International and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health, this new project seeks to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in Timor-Leste by improving the health and care-seeking behavior of pregnant women through an innovative mobile phone project.

Since 2004, HAI has been working with the government of Timor-Leste to implement programs to strengthen maternal, and newborn health services. Particular challenges to date have been in getting women to health care facilities for prenatal consultations, to give birth, and then for post-partum care. “We wanted to design a project in collaboration with the Ministry of Health that would increase the number of women accessing the facilities in the hopes that it would help their own health and that of their babies,” said Susan Thompson, Director of Timor-Leste Operations.

The project, which will be implemented over four years from 2011 to 2015 in the districts of Manufahi and Ainaro, will employ a three-pronged, innovative approach to reach women. Women attending a first prenatal visit at a health facility will be linked up with a facility-based midwife and the Mobile Moms SMS messaging program. Our technology partner, Catalpa International, is developing a web-based application which will leverage SMS technology to deliver tailored health advice to expectant mothers. Mobile Moms - Liga Inan will allow midwives to register expectant mothers via SMS.  Once registered, the application facilitates two-way communication between midwives and expectant mothers.The women will receive SMS messages according to her estimated date of delivery. The phones will also be used as a vital link between the midwife, who will remind the woman of health appointments and good pregnancy health practices, and the pregnant woman, who can alert the midwife at the time of delivery or if any problems arise.

Second, HAI will work in the community through family health promoters (PSFs) who will help to spark demand for health facility services and promote improved maternal behaviors through home visits. “The PSFs use photo cards and posters to get the messages across using local images so they can really relate to the women,” Thompson continues, adding that HAI will build upon past community health promotion successes with its Mai Ita Koko (Come Let’s Try!) and film programs.

The third component of the project involves strengthening the skills of a district-based health care team to respond to basic emergency obstetric care. This completes the circle of care –women are encouraged to attend the health facility for pregnancy and birth care through the mobile phones and the work of the community health workers, and when they do arrive they will find trained health care workers able to respond to any situation with quality care.

“This is an exciting approach, one that has been successful in other countries but not yet tried in Timor-Leste,” Susan Thompson says. “We plan to use operations research to closely monitor and assess the effectiveness of the Mobile Moms project and hope that it can be rolled out across the country in coming years.” If successful, Mobile Moms could make a big impact on the health of the Timorese people – and these experiences can be shared with other countries around the world.

For questions please contact Susan Thompson, Director of Timor-Leste Programs at 206.543.8382 or via email thompssu@u.washington.edu.

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Health Alliance International

We are a nongovernmental organization that supports governments in strengthening health systems and providing health care for all. We are affiliated with the University of Washington.

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