Date of this Version
Reducing maternal and infant mortality in the sub-Sahara Africa, especially Nigeria remains a serious health challenge. Information and communication technology (ICT) interventions offer an effective approach to alleviating the health challenge, as well as improving health outcomes. To harness the value of ICT and facilitate its practicability for maternal and child health (MCH) care, it is important to explore the experiences of health care providers’ who are at the forefront of the Nigerian health system deploying ICT tools for MCH care.
Methods: The exploratory study design interviewed nine health care providers involved in ICT-based interventions for MCH in selected antenatal clinics in four states in Nigeria. Data collected was content analysed using Nvivo to identify themes relevant to the objective of the study.
Results: The average age of the participants was 45.6yrs. Participants reported using mobile phones, the Internet, television/digital video disk (DVD) and radio for MCH care. Other tools such as, laptops/projectors for Power-Point slides and public address system were used during antenatal classes for maternal health educations. The ICT tools were used for appointment reminders, communicating health tips and during emergencies. Participants encountered challenges such as unreliable powers supply, cost of associated with using ICT and irrelevant call. Using ICT to care for women during and after pregnancy increased the demand for health services and had a positive effect on infant deaths.
Conclusions: ICT is an important tool for improving maternal health care and outcome. Hence, it is important to replicate harmonized and integrated ICT-based projects that can be implemented nation-wide to harness the potential of ICT for improving MCH. Future research can examine similar projects in private health facilities, and impact of using ICT for MCH care on the disposition of health care providers to work and workload, as well as demand for their time.