This issue of Works in PROGRESS focuses entirely on the PROGRESS project’s recent activities using mobile technology, especially text messaging as a means of sharing information on family planning. Additional information on our work using mobile technologies for health is available here.
Providing Information through Text Messaging Influences Contraceptive Behavior
A pilot study in Tanzania and Kenya, led by PROGRESS and working with partners, used text messaging to provide information on contraceptive methods, along with clinic locations. Called Mobile for Reproductive Health or m4RH, the project collected data from more than 7,500 mobile phone users and found that the approach was feasible, was used by a wide range of people including men and youth, and influenced contraceptive behavior. A research brief available here (PDF, 1.4 MB) summarizes the findings. The results from Tanzania were recently published in the journal Contraception (abstract available here). The findings from Kenya have been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
New Online Resource for Using Mobile Phones for Reproductive Health
PROGRESS has launched a new collection of online resources to help others use the information and approaches developed through m4RH. Since the pilot study, FHI 360 has been expanding m4RH by developing and testing new messages on family planning, prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, sex and pregnancy, and puberty. The new collection of resources provides tools and guidance on how to plan, design, promote, and evaluate m4RH and related programs to improve sexual and reproductive health globally.
Adoption and Scale-up of m4RH in Three Countries
PROGRESS has worked with multiple partners to expand the reach of m4RH in Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, summarized in three new briefs. In Kenya (PDF, 2.8 MB), the Ministry of Health is incorporating m4RH as part of a broader approach to using mobile technology. In Tanzania (PDF, 3.3 MB), Johns Hopkins University has incorporated m4RH into a national health communications project. In Rwanda (PDF, 829 KB), the Ministry of Health has asked PROGRESS to adapt m4RH to target youth and has asked its partners working with family planning and youth to incorporate m4RH into future activities.
Tanzania Hosts Regional Meeting on Mobile Health
At the request of USAID’s Africa Bureau and USAID/Tanzania, FHI 360/PROGRESS provided a leadership role in the “Using Mobile Technology to Improve Family Planning and Health Programs” meeting. FHI 360 staff organized the logistics of the meeting, presented a keynote address, and worked with several country teams to prepare and share information at the meeting. Held in Dar es Salaam in November 2012, the meeting focused on how mobile technology could be adopted, used, and scaled up to strengthen and support family planning and reproductive health. It was the third in a series of USAID-sponsored regional meetings organized by country teams to discuss important topics in family planning. Read the full meeting report here (PDF, 1.1 MB).
Number 9 • March 2013
PROGRESS Contributes to International Mobile Health Working Group
As a co-chair and advisory board member of the Mobile Health (mHealth) Working Group, FHI 360 demonstrates technical leadership in part by sharing PROGRESS-supported research on mHealth with the group. FHI 360 has presented results of the m4RH project from Kenya and Tanzania to the group, most recently in February 2013. A community of more than 1,100 members from 48 countries who represent more than 350 organizations, the mHealth Working Group meets regularly in Washington, DC, to share their perspectives on the implementation of mHealth in a variety of technical areas. The group is supported by the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs.
Study Begins to Test New Mobile Job Aid for Community Health Workers
In February 2013, FHI 360/PROGRESS in partnership with D-tree International and Pathfinder International began to test the feasibility, efficiency, and effectiveness of a new mobile phone-based job aid for community health workers in Tanzania. The job aid was developed to help community health workers counsel, screen, provide, and refer clients for family planning, HIV, and sexually transmitted infection services. It also helps the workers collect and record data to monitor and evaluate the impact of the mobile tool. The results of the study, in which 50 community health workers are being randomized to use either the mobile job aid or a paper-based tool, will contribute to global evidence on the effectiveness of mobile phone-based counseling and screening tools at the community level. The findings will also help inform replication and scale-up of the initiative in other settings.
PROGRESS Supporting Three Global Resources on Mobile Health
As part of its partnership with the USAID-funded Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project, FHI 360 with PROGRESS support is producing three global resources on using mobile health (mHealth) for family planning. The three resources are an online mHealth implementation guide, a brief on mHealth for the USAID team working on the High Impact Practices in Family Planning project, and and an e-learning course for health professionals with little or no experience with the technology. A literature review and in-depth interviews with mHealth experts are guiding the development of all three resources, which will be completed later in 2013.
m4RH Wins Global Recognition
In 2012, as part of International Women’s Day, the global advocacy organization Women Deliver and its supporters recognized the PROGRESS-supported m4RH project as one of the 50 most inspiring ideas to help girls and women throughout the world. The m4RH project was recognized as one of 10 projects in the Technologies and Innovation category of the “Women Deliver 50.”
PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) is a five-year project awarded to FHI 360 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in June 2008. The project seeks to improve access to family planning among underserved populations by providing global technical leadership and working in selected countries. PROGRESS currently works in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in India.