DHIS2’s SMS integration capacity as a tool for communication and patient management
As part of the fight against maternal mortality, Senegal’s Ministry of Health and the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) implemented an intervention to strengthen prenatal care and reduce the prevalence of anemia in women through iron and folic acid supplements at the community level in the regions of Dakar, Fatick and Thies. The Agency for the Development of Social Marketing (ADEMAS) and the MI, explored a pilot phase in the Dakar region. They used an automated SMS service to reach out to pregnant women to improve the proportion of women taking folic acid supplements as a means to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.
How it worked through DHIS2
Local public health officials enlisted pregnant women, collected personal information such as expected delivery date and recorded these in paper registries. These paper registries were then given to a staff member at ADEMAS to enter the data into DHIS2. Once the pregnant women were registered in DHIS2, the system sent weekly customized SMS reminders to their mobile phones.
PSI’s DHIS2 system sent a welcome SMS to all women enrolled, messages were sent in Wolof and included the name of the woman enrolled. A weekly SMS recalling the importance of adherence to the present scheme of fortified folic acid tablets was sent following a fixed schedule. Sending of the SMS reminders stopped at the estimated date of delivery or upon request by the receiver.
Between March and September 2015, about 1,000 women were enrolled and nearly 11500 reminder messages were sent. A small qualitative assessment was conducted in June 2015 with 25 women to determine if the content and pace of sending SMS was suitable for most women, if the messages were indeed read and if the tablets had been taken following the receipt of the SMS.
The SMS system was really appreciated by the target population and the ease and speed of implementation of the system improved our outreach efforts. With positive results, this approach was continued and expanded to additional beneficiaries through a second phase. The pilot demonstrated that DHIS2, combined with an intermediate transmission gateway, has the capacity to manage recipients and send automated personalized SMS reminders based on the data stored in the system.