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Aceh Besar Midwives With Mobile Phones

Summary

World Vision established the Aceh Besar Midwives Mobile-Phone Project in 2006 with the main purpose of improving maternal healthcare in the region. The intention was to utilize mobile communications and technology to facilitate, accelerate and improve the quality of health services.

Program goals

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami left Aceh Besar, one of the districts in Aceh province in Indonesia, with an enormous humanitarian disaster. The tsunami killed nearly 600 midwives and destroyed the medical, transportation and communication infrastructure, causing further decline in the standards of maternal health services and newborn care.

Key program components

The project distributed mobile phones to 223 midwives and developed an SMS system – referred to as the GPRS application – which allows midwives to upload patients’ health information into a central database. The project also aimed to use simple voice communications to reduce maternal and infant mortality by facilitating communication between the midwives and obstetrician-gynecologists (OBGYNs). The use of the mobile phones proved to be an effective method to enhance the healthcare system processes. The ease of communication enabled by the use of mobile phones helped to improve the communication and relationships amongst the healthcare workers and with the community. It also facilitated a better collaboration within the healthcare system, a stronger referral process, and a more efficient data collection methodology.

The project also identified barriers that hindered healthcare workers from fully benefiting from the use of ICTs. Poor infrastructural support and high cost of adoption were identified as the major barriers affecting the mobile phone usage by the healthcare workers. In addition, inadequate healthcare facilities, poor hospital service and insufficient manpower were also identified to be some of the factors influencing the quality of healthcare delivered to the community.