A new campaign in East Timor plans to tackle high rates of maternal and infant mortality with a mobile phone program designed to provide families with information about health and wellbeing.
Mobile Mums will provide new mothers and families with information on how to plan ahead for medically necessary travel, danger signs to look out for during pregnancy, and nutritional guides. The messages will also remind women to go to their pre-natal checkups and birth planning visits.
Beth Elson of Health Alliance International, told reporters "We discovered through our household survey that mobile phone ownership is rapidly increasing, so we thought this could be the perfect opportunity to combine traditional approaches to improve health outcomes with an innovative one using mobile phones."
Currently 97% of East Timor has mobile coverage available. One of the biggest challenges to the program is that only 73% of women in East Timor are literate. However, according to Elson, a study by the HAI found that all of their respondents have at least one person in their family who could read the messages. Elson explained that in East TImor, "often it's the husband or the mother-in-law that makes some decisions about health seeking behaviours. So the more people reading those health messages in the households, the better."
Media Resources: Australia News Network 12/10/12; Radio Australia 12/10/12