Microfinance institutions (MFIs) play a role in improving health through increasing opportunities for women’s social and economic positions, health literacy, and service uptake. Garmeen Ghana was initiated in 2003. Using MFI funds, Gharmeen Ghana added the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) as a means to enhance communication between health services and local women. This strategy aimed to embed health within microfinance for women in an effort to empower low-income women: 1) financially; 2) increase health literacy; and 3) assure social mobilisation. This project is aimed to address gender inequalities in economics, social wellbeing, and health.
Garmeen Ghana added MOTECH as a means to bring the health sector into a more direct relationship with the women and enable them to improve health outcomes for mothers and their newborns. This program launched in the Upper East region (2010) as a partnership between Ghana Health Service, Garmeen Foundation, and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. It uses mobile phones to increase the quantity and quality of prenatal and neonatal care in rural Ghana with a goal of improving health outcomes for mothers and their newborns.
Mobile phones provide opportunities for both receiving information and assure the tracking of services delivered. This program provides two interrelated mobile health services: Mobile Midwife—a phone application than enables pregnant women and their families to receive SMSs and voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancy each week, in their own language. This includes reminders of services and advice on accessing resources such as birthing kits in an effort to reduce cost of transportation to health services when service can be provided over the phone. The second application helps community health workers record, monitor, and track the care delivery to women and newborns in their target areas. Furthermore, community health workers assure that women visit healthcare providers when necessary, and assure that new mothers receive training on how to take care of their newborns. MOTECH is an innovative way of taking action and assuring that women have the needed cost-effective care.
[Source: WHO (Ghana), WHO African Regional Office, Gharmeen Ghana]