Health

Building relationships to make childbirth safer

No woman or baby should die during childbirth. For safer pregnancies, Liga Inan ('connecting mothers') facilitates two-way communication between pregnant women, family members and health providers.

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Purpose

To improve the likelihood of pregnant women delivering with a skilled birth attendant

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Approach

An mHealth initiative that strengthens communication, information sharing and clinic planning

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Location

Timor-Leste

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Highlights

40,000 women registered

2 million SMS messages sent with information on maternal and child health

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Impact

Enrolled women are 2x more likely to deliver their baby at a health facility

Enrolled women are 5x more likely to attend antenatal care after their baby is born

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Partners

Health Alliance International and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health, supported by Australian Aid

Helping families make informed decisions

In remote and rural areas, access to healthcare can be challenging. Babies are frequently born at home in Timor-Leste, lacking access to medical care. Nationally, maternal and infant mortality ratios are high.

The challenge we began with was health staff telling us they wanted help encouraging pregnant women to visit them frequently. From early research that showed women have access to mobile phones, Liga Inan began leveraging this to bring women and health providers closer together.

‘Hey Maria, have you taken your iron tablets today? Good iron levels can help you and your baby stay healthy.’

‘Hi Sandra, your delivery date is four weeks from now. Have you talked to your midwife about a birth plan?’

Liga Inan messages are designed through a rigorous behavioural research process. Pregnant women receive information via SMS to help them make informed decisions throughout the journey, tailored to their stage of pregnancy and continuing up to six months post-birth. They include nudges to visit their clinic at critical times, prevent disease, and make preparations for delivery. Through the system, women can also request a call back from a midwife, and receive broadcast messages about important community events like vaccination days.

When it’s centred around people, simple mobile technology can enhance relationships and trust.

The Liga Inan program has also expanded to Liga Familia, which uses the same messaging system to encourage fathers-to-be to actively support women and their newborn children throughout the journey.

Making things easier for frontline health workers

For midwives and doctors, using the Liga Inan system lets them register expectant mothers, track their progress and help them plan delivery. The app also collects health data from clinics and displays it for staff to see, helping them monitor and make decisions about their health services.

Health staff are able to monitor the status of pregnant women, easily contact them, and view clinic statistics to track progress.

"A pregnant woman came to our health facility last week. She told us that she's illiterate but sends her daughter to school. Her daughter is the one who usually reads Liga Inan messages to her. Her daughter informed her that according to the message from Liga Inan, she was expected to deliver in a couple of days. So the pregnant woman came to the health facility and delivered with the assistance of a health provider. Both mother and baby are well."

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