Reflections on Digital Maternal and Child Health Support for Mothers and Community Health Workers in Rural Areas of Limpopo Province, South Africa
journal contributionposted on 2023-03-09, 10:56 authored by Livhuwani Muthelo, Masenyani Oupa Mbombi, Mamare Adelaide Bopape, Tebogo M Mothiba, Melissa Densmore, Alastair van Heerden, Shane A Norris, Nervo Verdezoto Dias, Paula Griffiths, Nicola Mackintosh
Introduction: Digital health support using mobile and digital technologies, such as MomConnect and WhatsApp, is providing opportunities to improve maternal and child healthcare in low- and middle-income countries. Yet, the perspective of health service providers, pregnant women, and mothers as recipients of digital health support is under-researched in rural areas. Material and Methods: An exploratory-descriptive qualitative research approach was adopted to reflect on the experiences of mothers, community leaders, and community health workers on mobile health opportunities in the context of maternal and child health in rural areas. Purposive sampling was used to select 18 participants who participated in the two focus groups and individual semi-structured interviews for data collection about digital maternal and child health support. The thematic open coding method of data analysis assisted authors in making sense of the given reflections of mothers, community leaders, and healthcare workers about digital health support. Results: Participants commented on different existing digital support apps and their importance for maternal and child health. For example, MoMConnect, Pregnancy+, WhatsApp, and non-digital resources were perceived as useful ways of communication that assist in improving maternal and child health. However, participants reported several challenges related to the use of digital platforms, which affect following the health instructions given to pregnant women and mothers. Conclusions: Participants expressed the significant role of digital support apps in maternal and child health, which is impacted by various challenges. Addressing the lack of digital resources could improve access to health instructions for pregnant women and mothers.