Mobile WACh

Global WACh Family Planning Study Completes its First Day of Training

The unmet need for contraception in Kenya in the postpartum period, or months following childbirth, is high.  This unmet need contributes to poor maternal and child health outcomes, and impedes women’s empowerment.

Mobile WACh XY is a two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing the effect of bidirectional SMS dialogue vs. control on highly effective contraceptive use at 6 months postpartum among  individual women and couple dyads in Nyanza Province, Kenya.  The study builds upon the experience of other Global WACh mHealth studies using a text messaging platform that pushes automated messages containing critical information at crucial times and allows users to respond and converse with a health professional about their individual needs.  Mobile WACh XY differentiates itself in the family planning arena by including an emphasis on male partner involvement and couple communication. Male partners need to be invited to participate in the study, given the desire to include men while continuing to promote women’s reproductive autonomy.

Mobile WACh XY team poses for a photo on their second day of training

Mobile WACh XY team poses for a photo on their second day of training

The XY team is led by Drs. Elizabeth Harrington, Jennifer Unger and John Kinuthia.  This Global WACh study team completed its first week of training in Kisumu, Kenya last week.

Over the next 6 months they will enroll 220 women in the study, and up to 220 men—depending on female participants’ preferences.  Information gathered will provide insight into the effectiveness of an mHealth strategy to help meet women’s and couples’ postpartum contraceptive needs, and have policy implications for postpartum family planning programming.

Congratulations to everyone involved!  We look forward to sharing your progress.

Mobile WACh Engages Women in Their Own Maternal Care

UngerGlobal WACh Associate Director Dr. Jennifer Unger gave a great talk last week about the implementation of mobile phones in the care of pregnant women in Mathare, Kenya. Three hundred women are currently participating in the study, which aims to use SMS text messaging as a means to keep the expectant mothers informed and involved in the health of themselves and their babies.

Text messages from a nurse at the clinic offer tips and general information, as well as answers for any health questions the participants may have. The messaging system also provides appointment reminders and a way to check in to see how they’re feeling. Perhaps most importantly according to the women in the study, the messages offer encouragement and support while allowing them to feel cared for and empowered.

Many countries have some version of mHealth in place, and Dr. Unger stressed the importance of working together and also making the messages culturally appropriate and tailored to each individual community. This particular study is completely free for the participants.

The findings in Mathare, Kenya will lay the foundation for a larger Global WACh study on using mHealth to enhance the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. The results of the Mobile WACh study should be available in the spring, and we’re certainly looking forward to sharing them.