226608 Using technology to increase access to health messages in Uganda

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jeanne Ellis, MA , Healthcare, Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd., Arlington, VA
Susan Otchere , Healthcare Practice, Cardno Emerging Markets, Arlington, VA
Introduction: Providing messages on healthy behaviors is a key strategy to reducing incidence of many diseases. However, one challenge is getting the messages out to target populations, especially rural populations. More and more, innovative technology solutions can be used to reach people. The USAID Uganda HIPS (Health Initiatives for the Private Sector) Project has several examples of low cost technology strategies, including an SMS text messaging program. Implementation: The HIPS Project partners with Ugandan companies for expanded services in HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Family Planning for employees, dependents and community members. Many of the companies are based in remote areas, far away from public sector health facilities, and thus become employees' first stop for health services. In the area of prevention, HIPS has worked with several companies to set up an SMS text messaging service. HIPS partnered with a communications firm to develop the text messages, translate the messages into local languages, and build them into the cell phone platform. Employees could sign up for the messaging services, receiving texts at least once a day about family planning, HIV counseling and testing, being faithful and medical male circumcision. Recipients of the messages were also asked to answer questions about these topics, to gain baseline information on behavior, knowledge and practices. Results: Using SMS has many benefits. It ensures privacy and confidentiality because messages are received privately. Information can be stored for reviewing and discussing with your partner later. Employees can receive and respond to messages while at work.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
Identify innovative but low cost methodologies for reaching wider audiences with behavior change communication messaging.

Keywords: Health Behavior, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Senior Manager of the Healthcare Practice that is implementing the highlighted project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.