Several U.N. agencies recently collaborated on a text messaging initiative to improve communication between community health workers and pregnant women in a community in Rwanda. Local women, health workers, and hospital directors are raving about the initiative but scaling up the project throughout the country may prove challenging; only 6% of the population in Rwanda has electricity and charging phones often means long walks to charging stations.
“…John Kalach, director of the nearest hospital in Ruhengeri, says since Rapid SMS launched in August 2009, his hospital has had no maternal deaths, compared to 10 the previous year.
‘We used to get ladies coming here with serious complications just because they delayed the decision because the journey was very long,’ he says.
Kalach says authorities can use the data to work out which diseases affect women during pregnancy, the causes of death for children below five years, the volume and type of drugs required, and to monitor population growth rates.
Friday Nwaigwe, UNICEF’s country head of child health and nutrition, says the next step is to give mobile phones to 17,500 maternal health workers across the country and eventually to all 50,000 community health workers…”
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