October 7, 2015

Remembering mHealth at GMNHC for quality, integration, and equity

Written by Kirsten Gagnaire, Director, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Maternal Health Task Force. Reposted with permission.

2015-10-07_561588287c0df_side_safrica_2_mama.pngThe first ever Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference (GMNHC) will take place in Mexico City October 18 – 21, less than two weeks away! It is an opportunity for global MNCH organizations across sectors to come together and have technical discussion on what works in terms of programs, policies and advocacy. It is also a unique opportunity to convene key stakeholders to strategize on the new SDG health goals. MAMA is honored to have representatives from each country program present their research on a panel called Leveraging Mobile Technology to Strengthen Demand for Maternal and Child Health Services which will be moderated by Johnson & Johnson. The themes of the conference are quality, integration and equity: three areas that MAMA thinks are critical to maternal and newborn health.

Providing quality care

With regards to quality, MAMA has learned that it is vital for countries to build capacity locally to monitor the performance and quality of health service delivery, and to use this information to make efficient and effective changes and improvements in terms of coverage and quality of services.

An example of this is the South African National Department of Health’s MomConnect program. Building on the work of MAMA South Africa, MomConnect registers women early in their pregnancies at health facilities to provide mobile health text messaging, which improves healthcare utilization and outcomes during the antenatal and postnatal period for both the mother and newborn.

The program allows women to engage further with the health system through a set of help desk tools and services, which includes the ability to give feedback on the care they received. I am interested in learning from other ministries and organizations at GMNHC how they have or how they plan to build capacity at the local level to monitor delivery and quality of care and how they have involved, or plan to involve, those receiving care to report on the quality and coverage of care themselves. What are the advantages of connecting women more directly to health care delivery and quality monitoring? How can we ensure their feedback enhances accountability and is acted upon in a timely manner? What role can technology play in this regard?

Integrating for better care along the continuum

MAMA works to integrate with ministries of health and national health strategies to ensure sustainable, scalable and impact programs aligned with national priorities and needs. We look forward to hearing from others at the conference as to how they have worked to coordinate health system approaches involving multiple programs, stakeholders and initiatives across the continuum of RMNCAH to integrate service delivery. We also look forward to exploring how technology, in particular, can be leveraged to integrate service delivery (and data collection and utilization) across stakeholders, programs, the RMNCAH continuum and domains of care.

Equity to ensure all women access to the care they need

With regards with equity, we would like to see discussion around how multisector partners can ensure equity of access. What is the role, interest, unique capabilities and perhaps limitations of the private sector, the non-profit and the public sector to reach excluded, vulnerable and the poorest population groups? How can collaboration enhance these capabilities? What are the challenges involved in multi-sector partnerships to improve equity of access to high impact health interventions? What has worked with the MDGs and how will this evolve with the SDGs?

This conference presents an opportunity for us to put our heads together to share what has worked so far, what hasn’t and how we continue to learn from one another to meet the SDGs. Hope to see you there!