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How can mobile phones be used to improve nutrition service delivery in rural Bangladesh?

Future Health Systems

Khan NU, Rasheed S, Sharmin T, Siddique AK, Dibley M and Alam A (2018) How can mobile phones be used to improve nutrition service delivery in rural Bangladesh?, BMC Health Services Research, 18(1):530, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-018-3351-z


Background: Nutrition has been integrated within the health services in Bangladesh as it is an important issue for health and development. High penetration of mobile phones in the community and favourable policy and political commitment of the Government of Bangladesh has created possibilities of using Information Communication Technology such as mobile phones for nutrition programs. In this paper the implementation of nutrition services with a specific focus on infant and young child feeding was explored and the potential for using mobile phones to improve the quality and coverage of nutrition services was assessed.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in Mirzapur and Chakaria sub-districts, Bangladesh from February–April 2014. We conducted 24 in-depth interviews (mothers of young children), 8 focus group discussions (fathers and grandmothers); and 13 key informant interviews (community health workers or CHWs). We also observed 4 facilities and followed 2 CHWs during their work day. The data was analyzed manually using pre-existing themes.

Results: In this community, mothers demonstrated gaps in knowledge about IYCF. They depended on their social network and media for IYCF information. Although CHWs were trusted in the community, mothers and their family members did not consider them a good source of nutrition information as they did not talk about nutrition. In terms of ICTs, mobile phones were the most available and used by both CHWs and mothers. CHWs showed willingness to incorporate nutrition counselling through mobile phone as this can enhance their productivity, reduce travel time and improve service quality. Mothers were willing to receive voice calls from CHWs as long as the decision makers in the households were informed.

Conclusions: Our study indicated that there are gaps in IYCF related service delivery and there is a potential for using mobile phones to both strengthen the quality of service delivery as well as reaching out to the mothers in the community. It is important however, to consider the community readiness to accept the technology during the design and delivery of the intervention.