Global WACh

May 21, 2021

Researchers receive award to develop community-based SMS text intervention to improve neonatal health

Principal Investigator Dr. Keshet Ronen (UW DGH) with Site Principal Investigators, Dr. John Kinuthia (Kenyatta National Hospital) and Dr. Isaac Holeman (Co-Founder of Medic Mobile)

In Kenya, like many other resource-limited settings, neonatal mortality remains unacceptably high. Community health volunteers (CHVs) are a large cadre of lay health workers whose work has the potential to address a critical gap in efforts to improve neonatal health in resource-limited settings. Incorporating mobile health (mHealth) tools and remote contact with clients into CHV workflow may be an effective strategy to pave the way for enhanced care in the high-risk neonatal period.

Dr. Keshet Ronen, Acting Assistant Professor of Global Health, is leading a new five-year study titled, “CHV-NEO: Community-based digital communication to support neonatal health,” funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Collaborators include Drs. John Kinuthia (Kenyatta National Hospital), Isaac Holeman and Beatrice Wasunna (Medic Mobile), and Jennifer Unger (Women and Infants’ Hospital, Brown University).

Adapting the Mobile WACh mHealth platform used in multiple Global WACh studies that allows for both automated sending of tailored health-related SMS messages and two-way SMS interaction, this study will develop an interactive intervention that remotely connects mothers with CHVs and integrates SMS messaging into CHV workflow.  The study team will evaluate the intervention’s effect on clinical outcomes (neonatal mortality, facility visits and essential newborn care), service outcomes (CHV and supervisor workflow), and implementation outcomes (acceptability, uptake and fidelity of implementation), when implemented as part of routine CHV workflow in Western Kenya.

If effective, CHV-NEO has the potential to reduce neonatal mortality and improve coverage of community-based perinatal preventative care in medically underserved communities in Kenya.  Completion of this study will generate a ready-to-scale intervention and rigorous data on both its effectiveness and the enablers of its successful implementation of conducting home visits to pregnant and postpartum women to promote neonatal health.