In Kenya, only 40% of women deliver in a health facility, despite the dangers for home-based delivery. Similarly, few women complete the three recommended antenatal visits at the facility and few receive proper counseling in the postnatal period. Most projects in maternal health target specific timelines of as opposed to the entire continuum of care.

Maternity ward

With the Mobile WaCH project, we are sending targeted (both timeline and health challenges) SMS messages to pregnant women during the entire continuum of care to achieve behavior change around the uptake of government health services. This will be evaluated with a randomized control trial with three groups: (1) a control group, (2) a treatment group with one-way messages, and (3) a treatment group with two-messages that request a reply.

We hypothesize that a woman’s reply can be used as a proxy for her engagement with the health system and eventual uptake of health services.

The exact messages to be used are currently being piloted and iterated on. The study will begin by the end of 2012 at two sites in Kenya: a clinic in a dense urban setting in Nairobi and a clinic in a more rural setting in western Kenya.