Mahbub Elahi Chowdhury | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 19, 2015

Background: While there is general consensus on the potential of mobile messaging for behavioral change and improved health status, there is little empirical evidence to inform and influence governments and industry partners to invest in nationally scaled mobile messaging programs. This study seeks to address that evidence gap by exploring changes in knowledge, practices and demand for services relating to maternal and newborn health affected by a mobile messaging service in Bangladesh, called Aponjon.

Methods: Retrospective observational study with propensity score matching (PSM) was utilized. Data was collected in two phases. In phase one, household listings were conducted to identify mothers who delivered a baby within the last 0-6 months and 7-12 months. In phase two, the best-matched samples (treatment and control) were selected (255 users, 389 non-users within 0-6 months post-partum and 345 users, 484 non-users within 7-12 months post-partum) for final interview using a structured questionnaire. Use of Aponjon services for at least three months during pregnancy or early postpartum was the criteria for the treatment groups.

Results: Three months of using Aponjon services was not related to increased maternal and newborn health knowledge, practices or demand for services. However, mothers using Aponjon for at least six months during pregnancy were more than three times more likely to have increased knowledge and uptake of recommended practices and services relating to maternal care as compared to the control group. At least six months of Aponjon use during post-partum also had a positive effect on mothers’ knowledge on newborn care. No intervention effect was observed on recommended practices and services for newborn care.

Conclusions: At least six months exposure to Aponjon messaging is needed to have an effect on increased knowledge on maternal and newborn care. Similar exposure can also bring change in uptake of maternal health-related practices and services.