Grameen Foundation AppLab in Action


In Ghana, community nurses often base their work in village health posts and are unable to provide much-needed doorstep care. Needs associated with pregnancy, delivery and early infancy are not always fully addressed, in part because information available to nurses and volunteers is inadequate for supporting home-based services to pregnant women and new mothers and their babies.

Grameen Foundation's MOTECH initiative seeks to alter this dynamic by enabling the delivery of relevant and actionable information over mobile phones. Pregnant women register by providing their phone number, the area in which they live, their estimated due date and their preferred language. They then receive SMS and/or voice messages that provide information about their pregnancy, the location of the closest health facility and specific treatments that they should be receiving.

The MOTECH team has also created specific tools for community health workers, working with the Ghana Health Service to develop a simplified patient register, to reduce the huge amount of energy and effort invested in tracking patients and services through paper forms and registers.

Health workers enter information from this register into MOTECH via their mobile phone, simplifying daily recordkeeping and vastly reducing the time spent aggregating data for monthly reports. Because prenatal interventions are recorded using this system, MOTECH can send messages to expectant mothers if they have missed critical care, while healthcare workers can receive feedback about the number of women in their area who have received proper care and administrators in the health system can track the delivery of services across specific areas.

The MOTECH system, which was launched in July 2010 in the Upper East Region of Ghana, has (as of February 2012) registered more than 3,300 pregnant women and almost 10,000 children under five. To further prove the value of the service, MOTECH was expanded to the Awutu Senya district in October 2011.

Grameen Foundation recently received a "transition grant" from the "Saving Lives at Birth" Grand Challenge for Development, co-funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the World Bank and Grand Challenges Canada. This funding will enable MOTECH to expand to two new districts and reach approximately 14,000 pregnant women and 46,000 children under five over the two-year implementation, increasing access to accurate health information, generating increased demand for prenatal, postnatal and neonatal care, and providing detailed data on health service delivery and outcomes to the Ghana Health Service.

Grameen Foundation also recently received a grant from the Innovation Working Group, part of the UN Secretary-General's "Every Woman Every Child" effort, to explore sustainable business models for the mobile health program in Ghana. The Gates Foundation recently provided support for expansion to a third new district and execution of an impact-assessment study.