The cost effectiveness, portability and universal advancement of mobile phones have enabled the implementation and administration of different health initiatives across the world. The response has been amazing because of the low cost of sending and receiving text messages especially in developing countries and public health messages can be sent to even the remotest areas of Africa and Asia. Here are some of the examples where mobile texting campaigns have helped achieve Millennium Developmental Goals:-
1. Eradicate extreme Poverty and Hunger:
“You Choose Campaign- Fighting Poverty by Texting” is an effort launched by ONE group in 2013 which reflect the ideology that “where you are born should not dictate whether you live or die”. With 700 million mobile connections in Africa, the “You Choose” campaign will take advantage of this mobile revolution to enable millions of Africans to add their voices in shaping the new MDGs for 2015.
2. Reduce child mortality :
In South Africa there are a lot of mothers lost to follow-up care in prevention of mother to child transmission programs in South Africa, missed appointments and babies lacking preventative medication.
CELLPHONES4HIV is a 10 weeks program of scheduled text messages, delivered to HIV positive mothers, which cost nothing to the mothers. These texts messages send helpful tips to the mothers, reminding them to attend their appointments, how and when to administer medications to their babies and most importantly provide a a psychological support to mothers with HIV.
3. Improve maternal health
Wazazi Nipendeni (Parents Love Me) is a national Healthy Pregnancy and Safe Motherhood multi-media campaign in Tanzania. One of the goals of the campaign is to harness mobile phone technology and text messaging to reduce maternal and infant mortality numbers by three-quarters by 2015.
“The mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership strengthens this campaign by providing informative text messages and appointment reminders in Swahili at no charge for pregnant women and mothers of newborn babies (up to 16 weeks of age), as well as to supporters (husband, friends and family) and information seekers,” explains Sarah Emerson, country manager, mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership, CDC Foundation.
4. Combat HIV/AIDS Malaria and other diseases
Texting SMS campaigns have been useful in collecting HIV/AIDS data in rural areas of Uganda where these texts messages “helped with the accurate collection of medical records, dissemination of information from healthcare providers, and reminders for different medical regimens”.
With the constant advancement and proliferation of mobile technology, a lot of progress will be possible in the field of public health where a phone might be the only window into the rest of the world.