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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 46-47

Role of mobile-related health interventions in improving the delivery of maternal and child health services and their outcomes in low- and middle-income nations


1 Vice Principal Curriculum, Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Kancheepuram, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, India

Date of Web Publication20-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/bjhs.bjhs_9_19

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Role of mobile-related health interventions in improving the delivery of maternal and child health services and their outcomes in low- and middle-income nations. BLDE Univ J Health Sci 2019;4:46-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Role of mobile-related health interventions in improving the delivery of maternal and child health services and their outcomes in low- and middle-income nations. BLDE Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jul 24];4:46-7. Available from: http://www.bldeujournalhs.in/text.asp?2019/4/1/46/260743

Dear Sir,

For time and again, an improvement in the delivery of the maternal and child health-care services has been regarded as one of the major global public health priorities.[1] Despite the implementation of multiple interventions, >825 women are dying each day due to avoidable causes linked with either pregnancy and/or childbirth.[1] On a similar note, in the year 2017, close to 5.5 million children died under the age of 5 years, of which 50% lost their lives right in the 1st month of their life and remain a serious cause of global concern.[2] The alarming fact is that major proportion of these reported deaths is from low- and middle-income nations.[2] Acknowledging the importance of the maternal and child health care in improving the survival rates and their health indices, there is a definite need to plan and implement innovative approaches, which can neutralize the existing barriers.[1],[2] Mobile phones have become a part and parcel of everyone's life, regardless of the geographical location, and considering that there are so many apps available to help people from different walks of life for their varied needs, it becomes extremely vital to explore this option for the well-being of the mother and the child.[3],[4]

It has been realized that mobile-related health (m-health) applications possess immense potential in improving health education activities, especially as it becomes a medium for the delivery of verbal and visual messages.[5],[6] The effectiveness of health education activities can be further strengthened by improving user interface design and addition of pictures/animation/videos, which can be readily understood by the general population easily.[5] These m-health applications have proven their utility in addressing various felt and unfelt needs of the mother, ranging from health education on various issues (viz. antenatal care, immunization, nutritional support, family planning, mental support, and selecting the place of delivery), customized communication with the mothers/family members, and self-monitoring of health status [Figure 1].[5],[6],[7]
Figure 1: Range of services provided through m-health

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The feature of periodic personalized communication can play an instrumental role in reinforcing the behavioral changes among the beneficiaries.[5],[6] In fact, the women have been given reminders about all the important milestones and counseling services, such as antenatal examinations, dates of upcoming vaccinations, or medications.[6],[7] In addition, some of the apps have an inbuilt feature to schedule an appointment, making a payment, promotion of hospital services, and even checking the laboratory results of the investigations performed.[5] Moving further, some of the apps also have an external sensor or a mechanism to keep a track of basal body temperature, body weight, physical exercise, fetal movement, and uterine contractions.[5]

The general population can use the mobile phones either for health promotion or prevention or treatment or even for planning the delivery services. The mothers/family members can contact various outreach workers (such as accredited social health activists and female health workers) for the sake of immunization or ultrasonography or planning their deliveries or in case of any untoward complications or to book an urgent appointment with the doctors for their health concerns. A wide range of initiatives (such as Mother and Child Tracking System) has been launched to ensure that the utilization of maternal and child health-care services can be improved upon.[5],[6],[7]

Similarly, in most of the other developing nations as well, the scope of the mobile phones has been realized and they are being used to revolutionize the maternal care.[4],[6] In fact, the findings of reports have clearly suggested a reduction in the number of maternal deaths, miscarriage, and other complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.[5],[6],[7] Further, the extent of utilization of all the packages of services has shown a significant improvement owing to the use of mobile phones.[4],[6] Likewise, betterment in the child health indicators has also been reported.[2],[3]

In conclusion, mobile phone-based applications can become a revolutionary tool to improve the maternal and child health indicators, especially in low- and middle-income nations. It is high time that mobile technology should be optimally employed for the betterment of their health standards.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Maternal Mortality – Key facts; 2018. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/maternal-mortality. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 07].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Children: reducing mortality – Key Facts; 2018. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/children-reducing-mortality. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 07].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Adopting mobile technology to improve maternal care in rural and low-resource settings. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:266-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
4.
Barron P, Peter J, LeFevre AE, Sebidi J, Bekker M, Allen R, et al. Mobile health messaging service and helpdesk for South African mothers (MomConnect): History, successes and challenges. BMJ Glob Health 2018;3:e000559.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Zhang P, Dong L, Chen H, Chai Y, Liu J. The rise and need for mobile apps for maternal and child health care in China: Survey based on app markets. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2018;6:e140.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Tobe RG, Haque SE, Ikegami K, Mori R. Mobile-health tool to improve maternal and neonatal health care in Bangladesh: A cluster randomized controlled trial. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2018;18:102.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Battle JD, Farrow L, Tibaijuka J, Mitchell M. M-health for safer deliveries: A mixed methods evaluation of the effect of an integrated mobile health intervention on maternal care utilization. Healthc (Amst) 2015;3:180-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
    


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