This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cell Phones Saving Lives in Ghana

Getting pregnant is one of the most dangerous things that a woman can do, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. Women need appropriate prenatal care to monitor the pregnancy, and they need to have access to medical care at the time of delivery, just in case things don't go well for mother and/or baby. But what do you do when women do not routinely have access to this kind of information and service? The BBC reports on a new program in Ghana that keeps track of pregnant women by calling them on their cell phone. The program is called Mobile Midwife, and it is a collaboration between the Grameen Foundation and the Ghana Health Service.
In a country where there are more active mobile phone lines than people (although using several Sim cards is common, so this doesn't mean that everyone has a mobile phone), using the technology to reach women and connect healthcare facilities makes sense.
When a woman signs up for the service, she is assigned a unique number.
After each appointment, the nurse updates her medical records electronically using a mobile phone. By reviewing a digitally-generated monthly report, she can see who has had the correct vaccinations, for example. It also means that the health service can gather centralised data on maternal health in the region. 
The platform is now used in seven districts across Ghana. A desk-top nurse application has been developed to make it easier to enter large amounts of data, as well as an app for android smartphones.
There are currently 216 districts in Ghana, so the impact is still geographically limited, but the idea seems brilliant.

1 comment:

  1. 29 billion a good thing? I am guessing you will perhaps find this article of interest.