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      Feasibility and Acceptability of an Adapted Mobile Phone Message Program and Changes in Maternal and Newborn Health Knowledge in Four Provinces of Afghanistan: Single-Group Pre-Post Assessment Study


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          Mobile phone apps for health promotion have expanded in many low- and middle-income countries. Afghanistan, with high maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality rates, a fragile health infrastructure, and high levels of mobile phone ownership, is an ideal setting to examine the utility of such programs. We adapted messages of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) program, which was designed to promote healthy behaviors during pregnancy and a newborn’s first year of life, to the Afghan context. We then piloted and assessed the program in the provinces of Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, and Balkh.


          The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the MAMA pilot program, and to examine changes in reported maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) knowledge and attitudes among participants from baseline to follow up.


          We conducted a single-group study with data collected within 10 weeks of enrollment, and data collection was repeated approximately 6 months later. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires. Eligible participants included pregnant women who had registered to receive fully automated mobile health messages and their husbands. Assessment questionnaires queried sociodemographic details; knowledge, attitudes, and health care-seeking practices; and intervention experience and acceptability at follow up. The number of messages received by a given phone number was extracted from the program database. We descriptively analyzed the feasibility and acceptability data and compared the change in MNCH knowledge between baseline and follow-up measures using the McNemar Chi square test.


          Overall, 895 women were enrolled in the MAMA program. Data from 453/625 women (72.5% of the pretest sample) who received voice (n=302) or text (n=151) messages, and 276/427 men (64.6% of the pretest sample) who received voice (n=185) or text (n=91) messages contributing data at both time points were analyzed. At follow up, 699/729 (95.9%) participants were still enrolled in the MAMA program; voice message and SMS text messaging subscribers received 43 and 69 messages on average over the 6-month period, respectively. Participants who were voice message subscribers and female participants more commonly reported missing messages compared with the text message subscribers and men; predominant reasons for missed messages were the subscribers being busy with chores or not having their shared phone with them. Over 90% of men and women reported experiencing benefits from the program, mainly increased knowledge, and 226/453 (49.9%) of the female participants reported referring someone else to the program. Most of the participants (377/453, 83.2% women and 258/276, 93.5% men) believed it was beneficial to include husbands in the program. Joint decision making regarding maternal and child health care increased overall. The proportions of participants with correct knowledge significantly increased for all but one MNCH measure at follow up.


          This assessment indicates that the pilot MAMA program is feasible and acceptable in the Afghan context. Further research should be conducted to determine whether program participation leads to improved MNCH knowledge, health practices, and health service utilization in this fragile setting prior to larger scale up.

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          Role of mHealth applications for improving antenatal and postnatal care in low and middle income countries: a systematic review

          Background From 1990 to 2015, the number of maternal deaths globally has dropped by 43%. Despite this, progress in attaining MDG 5 is not remarkable in LMICs. Only 52% of pregnant women in LMICs obtain WHO recommended minimum of four antenatal consultations and the coverage of postnatal care is relatively poor. In recent years, the increased cellphone penetration has brought the potential for mHealth to improve preventive maternal healthcare services. The objective of this review is to assess the effectiveness of mHealth solutions on a range of maternal health outcomes by categorizing the interventions according to the types of mHealth applications. Methods Three international online electronic databases were searched between January 1, 2000 and January 25, 2016 to identify studies exploring the role of mHealth solutions in improving preventive maternal healthcare services. Of 1262 titles screened after duplication, 69 potentially relevant abstracts were obtained. Out of 69 abstracts, 42 abstracts were shortlisted. Full text of 42 articles was reviewed using data extraction sheet. A total of 14 full text studies were included in the final analysis. Results The 14 final studies were categorized in to five mHealth applications defined in the conceptual framework. Based on our analysis, the most reported use of mHealth was for client education and behavior change communication, such as SMS and voice reminders [n = 9, 65%]. The categorization provided the understanding that much work have been done on client education and behavior change communication. Most of the studies showed that mHealth interventions have proven to be effective to improve antenatal care and postnatal care services, especially those that are aimed at changing behavior of pregnant women and women in postnatal period. However, little evidence exists on other type of mHealth applications. Conclusion This review suggests that mHealth solutions targeted at pregnant women and women in postnatal period can improve preventive maternal healthcare services. However, there is a need to conduct more controlled-trials and quasi-experimental studies to strengthen the literature in this research area. The review recommends that mHealth researchers, sponsors, and publishers should prioritize the transparent reporting of interventions to allow effective interpretation of extracted data. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s12913-017-2664-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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            Effectiveness and Appropriateness of mHealth Interventions for Maternal and Child Health: Systematic Review

            Background The application of mobile health (mHealth) technology in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) is increasing worldwide. However, best practice and the most effective mHealth interventions have not been reviewed systematically. Objective A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of mHealth interventions for RMNCH around the world were conducted to investigate their characteristics as well as the features and effectiveness of mHealth interventions. Methods Studies of mHealth interventions for RMNCH between January 2011 and December 2016 were retrieved from 6 databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Global Health, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, VIP Database for Chinese Technical Periodicals, and Wanfang Data Knowledge Service Medium). Comparable studies were included in a random-effects meta-analysis for both exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and antenatal checks (ANC). Descriptive analyses were conducted for mHealth studies with a range of study designs. Results Analyses of 245 studies were included, including 51 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Results showed that there are increasing numbers of studies on mHealth interventions for RMNCH. Although 2 meta-analysis, one with 2 RCTs on EBF (odds ratio [OR] 2.03, 95% CI 1.34-3.08, I2=25%) and the other with 3 RCTs on ANC (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.13-1.79, I2=78%), showed that mHealth interventions are more effective than usual care, almost half (43%) of RCTs showed negative or unclear results on mHealth interventions. Functions described in mHealth interventions were diverse, and the health stages covered were broad. However, single function or single stage appeared to be dominant among mHealth interventions compared with multiple functions or stages. Conclusions More rigorous evaluations are needed to draw consistent conclusions and to analyze mHealth products with multiple functions, especially those popular in the app markets.
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              Effectiveness of an SMS-based maternal mHealth intervention to improve clinical outcomes of HIV-positive pregnant women.

              We conducted a retrospective study to investigate the effectiveness of an mHealth messaging intervention aiming to improve maternal health and HIV outcomes. Maternal health SMSs were sent to 235 HIV-infected pregnant women twice per week in pregnancy and continued until the infant's first birthday. The messages were timed to the stage of the pregnancy/infant age and covered maternal health and HIV-support information. Outcomes, measured as antenatal care (ANC) visits, birth outcomes and infant HIV testing, were compared to a control group of 586 HIV-infected pregnant women who received no SMS intervention. Results showed that intervention participants attended more ANC visits (5.16 vs. 3.95, p < 0.01) and were more likely to attend at least the recommended four ANC visits (relative risk (RR): 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.15-1.72). Birth outcomes of intervention participants improved as they had an increased chance of a normal vaginal delivery (RR: 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02-1.19) and a lower risk of delivering a low-birth weight infant (<2500 g) (RR: 0.14, 95% CI: 0.02-1.07). In the intervention group, there was a trend towards higher attendance to infant polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing within six weeks after birth (81.3% vs. 75.4%, p = 0.06) and a lower mean infant age in weeks at HIV PCR testing (9.5 weeks vs. 11.1 weeks, p = 0.14). These results add to the growing evidence that mHealth interventions can have a positive impact on health outcomes and should be scaled nationally following comprehensive evaluation.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR mHealth and uHealth
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                July 2020
                20 July 2020
                : 8
                : 7
                : e17535
                [1 ] Global Health, Population, and Nutrition FHI 360 Durham, NC United States
                [2 ] Helping Mothers and Children Thrive in Afghanistan (HEMAYAT) Project FHI 360 Kabul Afghanistan
                [3 ] Health Promotions Department Ministry of Public Health Kabul Afghanistan
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Victoria Lebrun vlebrun@ 123456fhi360.org
                Author information
                ©Victoria Lebrun, Lisa Dulli, Sayed Omar Alami, Arzoo Sidiqi, Ahmad Shah Sultani, Sayed Haroon Rastagar, Iftikhar Halimzai, Sharif Ahmadzai, Catherine S Todd. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 20.07.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 18 December 2019
                : 5 February 2020
                : 1 May 2020
                : 13 May 2020
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                afghanistan,mobile apps,pregnant women,maternal health,newborn health,social and behavior change,mhealth,voice message,sms


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