Mobile messaging for behavioural change
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were targets agreed by WHO to improve health and deal with poverty. Governments and NGOs were encouraged to focus on these targets and meet them by 2015. By 2010 it was obvious that the two targets unlikely to be met were MDG 4 and 5 which covered maternal and child mortality.
The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) was set up to provide mothers in low resource settings with good quality health content via their mobile phones. The founding partners were USAID, Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter.
Content Consultants were commissioned to create a set of core messages that could be used by local NGOs and adapted to meet specific country needs. We wrote over 5,000 behaviour change messages and created seven sets of messages in both SMS and audio format. The messages cover the first 1,000 days (from pregnancy until two years). This timescale is where health information can make a real difference to a child’s health status.
The messages have been used by NGOs in over 70 countries from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to Latin America and the Middle East. They have been translated into 24 different languages and reach well over 3 million women.
The Health Alliance International working in Timor-Leste found the message programme made measurable differences in people’s health behaviours:
- Use of a skilled birth attendant increased substantially
- Deliveries at a health facility increased by 17 %
- The number of women having postpartum care doubled.
VOTO Mobile working in Ghana found similar results:
- The numbers of women sleeping under a mosquito net doubled
- 78% of women exclusively breastfed their babies (up from 44%)
- Three quarters of women took their baby to hospital when they were ill
In their words
A recent survey showed that all the NGOs who used the messages rated them as “good” or “excellent”.
Around 95% rated the guidelines we wrote on how to go about developing a behaviour change programme using the messages as “very helpful” or “extremely helpful”.