Mobile health in Sierra Leone: Evidence and implications for health systems

mHealth in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has taken important steps over the last decade towards improving the health status of its people; the launch of the Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI) in 2010 was a major milestone that made healthcare services available free of charge for pregnant and lactating women and children under five years. But the current maternal and newborn health statistics illustrate that the health system still faces challenges.

There is a need to increase demand, improve healthcare provision, and facilitate the connection between communities and healthcare providers.

These challenges and the need for stronger involvement of communities and better communication between these and health workers came even more to the forefront during the current Ebola crisis.

Mobile communication technologies are rapidly spreading globally and Africa is no exception.

It is an opportune time to use this technology development as a platform for public health interventions. But the evidence for how best to use mobile communication technology for health (called mobile health, abbreviated as mHealth) is still sparse.

This technical brief summarises a mobile health intervention research in Bombali district, in north-west Sierra Leone. It describes how health providers were connected to clients through mobile telephones (the interventions), and the assessment of these interventions (the findings regarding results and impact). This technical brief provides recommendations for healthcare providers and policy-makers interested in adopting mobile health interventions to advance maternal and newborn health.

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