Liga Inan is using mobile phones to connect expectant mothers with health providers in Timor-Leste to improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Many women in Timor-Leste live in remote and rural areas which makes it difficult for them to access health facilities and midwives. As a result, many women find it difficult to get good advice and support to help improve their chances of a having a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.
With research showing that most women in Timor-Leste have access to a mobile phone, Health Alliance International (HAI) and Catalpa international saw an opportunity to strengthen communication between pregnant women and midwives. In 2011 Catalpa and HAI partnered with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health to design and develop the Liga Inan mobile phone program with support from USAID. The goal of the Liga Inan program is to increase utilisation of quality skilled care before, during and after delivery.
Liga Inan facilitates two-way communication between expectant mothers and midwives.
The Liga Inan service combines an online-web-application with simple mobile phones to provide regular health promotional messages to women and to facilitate two-way communication between health providers and expectant mothers over SMS.
Midwives can now use a mobile phone to register expectant mothers, track their progress, know when they go into labour and make arrangements for attending the delivery. Mothers continue to receive support through the first six weeks of the newborn's life.
Liga Inan also sends automated health promotional information via SMS to all registered pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancy, helping mothers make better decisions about their pregnancy and linking them with regular prenatal care.
The Liga Inan program has shown very positive results to date. There has been a very enthusiastic response to the program from both health staff and pregnant women with high numbers of enrolments. In Manufahi district, where the program was piloted in mid-2013, more than 1500 women have registered in the program, representing around 50-60% of all pregnant women in the district. And in Liquica, where Liga Inan started in August of this year, we are excited to see that over 500 pregnant women have already enrolled. Results to date suggest that Liga Inan is already changing the health-seeking behaviour of expectant mothers.
In Manufahi, Liga Inan has dramatically increased the number of women seeking prenatal care — seeing an increase of over 100% in the Same sub-district. It has also increased the number of women seeking a midwife to assist in the delivery of her baby. Additionally, we have seen improvements in communication between mothers and midwifes, with mothers requesting help over the service 145 times, and midwives broadcasting community health messages 143 times.
The next phase of the national scale-up, funded by the Australian Government, will see Liga Inan implemented in Aileu District in early 2015. As Liga Inan is rolled out across Timor-Leste, it has the potential to radically change the way women access health care. By the time the program is implemented in every district, we estimate that around 50,000 to 60,000 women will subscribe to the service each year. This means that over 180,000 personalised messages will be delivered into the homes of Timorese mothers-to-be.