Global WACh


August 3, 2021

Researchers study text messaging to improve retention and viral suppression in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programs in Kenya

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Credit: Ivan Samkov/Pexels

Over the years, Global WACh utilized the Mobile WACh mobile health (mHealth) system that allows for both automated sending of tailored health-related short message service (SMS) text messages and two-way SMS interaction between participants and a health care provider in low- to middle-income countries for an array of maternal-child health (MCH) research studies.  The system sends messages through mobile phones, which have the potential to enhance access and reach of crucial health service interventions and to improve health outcomes.

Researchers of the Mobile Strategies for Women’s and Children’s Health: Optimizing Adherence and Efficacy of PMTCT/ART (Mobile WACh X) randomized clinical trial, funded by the National Institute of Health and led by Principal Investigator Grace John-Stewart, adapted Mobile WACh to reach pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV at six MCH clinics in Kenya.  Previous research has shown that interactive SMS can improve early antiretroviral therapy (ART) retention in perinatal women, but it was unknown whether long-term interactive SMS systems can durably improve retention and viral suppression in preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

May 21, 2021

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

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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). (more…)

February 23, 2021

Researchers plan to present latest HIV science at virtual CROI 2021

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The Conference on Retroviral Opportunistic Infections (CROI) is an annual forum for scientists and clinical investigators to present, discuss, and critique their investigations into the epidemiology and biology of human retroviruses and associated diseases.  Every year, many Global WACh researchers present their study findings, contributing to the accelerating global progress in HIV and AIDS research.

This year, CROI will be held online from March 6-10, 2021.  We have compiled a list of Science Spotlight presentations and an oral symposia presentation that our researchers are presenting.  See their presentations at the conference and visit our blog next month when we feature the full abstract summaries and authors! (more…)

June 18, 2019

New study will deliver social media-based counseling intervention to local peripartum adolescents

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Dr. Keshet Ronen (Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health) received a Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness grant by the University of Wisconsin’s Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT).  The new study, entitled “Social media support for peripartum adolescents in Seattle”, takes lessons learned in Kenya using social media to facilitate peer support for youth and applies them here in Seattle. (more…)

June 11, 2019

Family Planning Decision Support teams publishes findings from Mobile WACh XY and receives funding for new Mobile WACh NEO trial

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The Mobile WACh mHealth platform is the foundation of multiple studies under the Family Planning Decision Support Scientific Priority Area.   The system allows for both automated sending of tailored health-related SMS messages and two-way SMS interaction between participants and a health care provider in low- to middle-income countries.

The patient, Gertude, receives automated and personalized messages from a nurse through the Mobile WACh platform regarding her infant’s health. Source: Brenda Daroka (Kenyatta National Hospital), East African Science & Technology Commission Conference presentation

Originally designed to use SMS text messaging as a means to keep expectant mothers informed and involved in the health of themselves and their babies, the platform provides new and innovative opportunities to promote family planning at critical time points.  Family planning allows women to determine whether and when to have children, enhancing their educational and employment prospects.  This, in turn, improves their income levels, family stability, and mental well-being, while contributing to improved health outcomes for themselves and their children.

We’re pleased to share recent achievements contributed by the Mobile WACh platform. (more…)

March 11, 2019

Does the message matter? UW Royalty Research Fund awarded to characterize effect of Mobile WACh’s SMS content and participant engagement and care seeking outcomes

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Dr. Jennifer Unger, MD, MPH

Dr. Keshet Ronen, PhD











As more households in low-income countries own a mobile phone than have access to electricity or adequate sanitation, health care providers are progressively utilizing mobile health (mHealth) platform approaches to provide guidance and support to patients between clinic visits.  Evidence shows mobile short message service (SMS) programs improve HIV and maternal-child health outcomes, but there is less understanding about the types of messages that engage recipients and the mechanisms that lead to changes in health behavior.  We are pleased to announce that Drs. Jennifer Unger (Assistant Professor, OB/GYN and Global Health) and Keshet Ronen (Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health) are the principal investigator and co-investigator, respectively, of a UW Royalty Research Fund award to analyze participant messages, and yield an understanding of how recipients use these systems and how care seeking is impacted by SMS conversations. (more…)