The Guardian Reports on Project Using GPS in Effort to Improve Maternal Health in Nigeria

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

A blog post published over the weekend in The Guardian describes one effort to use mobile technologies, specifically handheld GPS-enabled devices, to collect evidence on the distribution of health facilities. The project combines geographic data, interviews as part of an effort to collect evidence on the effect of distance to health facilities on maternal mortality:

A project in Nigeria for the UK Department for International Development, for example, which is funding a programme to help reduce child and mother mortality in childbirth by encouraging more mothers to give birth in clinics, has successfully combined GPS data collected during interviews with satellite imagery to clearly show the effect of distance on mortality. “We knew there was a huge difference between the Muslim north and the Christian south,” says Johnny Heald of ORB International, the opinion research firm that carried out the interviews using GPS-equipped PDAs. “By interviewing people where we knew clinics were funded, and also a matching sample where they weren’t, then overlaying that data on satellite maps, we could show the effect of distance on mortality very effectively.

As Al Jazeera highlighted in a report aired last week, Nigeria has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality ratios, at 630 deaths per 100,000 live births.  As  Al Jazeera notes, ensuring that women have ready access to properly equipped health facilities and skilled health providers is as complex a task as it is critical to efforts to improve maternal health. For more blog posts on how mobile technologies is being used in efforts to improve maternal health around the world, click here