Accessing maternal healthcare information using a mobile application
The ubiquity and penetration of mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa presents the opportunity to leverage maternal care information provision in both prenatal and postnatal cases. The slow progress and funding constraints in attaining the Millennium Development Goals for child and maternal health encourage harnessing innovative measures, such as mHealth, to address these public health priorities. Mobile health (mHealth) encompasses the use of mobile telecommunication and multimedia into increasingly mobile and wireless health care delivery systems and has the potential to improve tens of thousands of lives each year. Being pregnant can be very challenging to mothers especially if they are expecting for the first time. In Kenya, many women rely on information that is down from one to another which may not be accurate as experience from each pregnancy can be different from one pregnancy to the other and from one person to another. Matters are made worse when information past down is mixed with cultural taboo. The aim of this research was to determine the challenges expectant women face when accessing maternal healthcare information in Kenya, to determine the current sources of the information and their limitations, determine the design requirements, the best mobile platform to develop the mobile application on and lastly to develop and test the mobile application. The findings of this research show that only a few expectant women currently access information from Internet sources. In developed countries, mobile phones are widely used to provide maternal healthcare information through mobile applications, SMS. In Kenya, few women use mobile and Internet to access this information because they rely on books, stories and doctors information which they receive rarely. The research established that mHealth has a great potential in increasing access to maternal information in developing countries. LEA, a Java based mobile application, was developed to provide maternal healthcare information to expectant women. It represents a proof of concept that mobile applications lead to sustainable prenatal and neonatal mHealth services.