Promoting Maternal and Child Health through Technology – the “LUCY Mobile Application”

by Amref Health Africa

In the serene hilly villages of Migori and Kisii counties, a digital revolution is underway, silently transforming the lives of pregnant women and their children. At the heart of this revolution lies the LUCY mobile application, a beacon of hope that seamlessly connects expectant mothers with essential healthcare services and credible health information on pregnancy safety and the growth of their unborn/born child. With its innovative approach to entering data – step by step, and the dedicated efforts of community health workers, Lucy will play a vital role in improving maternal and child health in these rural communities.

The journey began when Amref International University through its project, the Tekeleza Project recognized the need for better access to medical care for pregnant women in Migori and Kisii counties. Health[e]Foundation’s LUCY app was selected as an evidence-based digital solution to improve access to medical information and care. Amref and Health[e]Foundation adapted the LUCY information messaging phrase book – among others related to danger signs, healthy habits, nutrition, and reproductive health – to the country context of Kenya. This allows the app to be adherent to international guidelines and the national immunization schedule while speaking to the local context of Kenyan women in their own language.

A rigorous process has been followed to ensure that LUCY App serves as a comprehensive resource for expectant mothers. Its user-friendly interface was designed with simplicity in mind, making it accessible even to those with limited technological literacy. From the start, the developers understood that to achieve their goals, they needed the active participation and support of the community.

To facilitate the successful implementation of the LUCY App, a team of dedicated Community Health Promoters underwent specialized training to become ambassadors for maternal and child health. Their mission to empower the communities especially women on the benefits of using Lucy and the need to provide guidance on navigating the app’s features is their driving morale.

With the necessary training under their belts, the community health promoters will embark on a mission to introduce the LUCY App to pregnant women across Migori and Kisii counties – The Tekeleza project has incorporated Mjali another mobile application that allows registration of mothers on Linda Mama-a free health insurance cover by Government through the Ministry of Health to provide Antenatal delivery and postnatal care- for ease of monitoring of health outcomes. The health promoters are empowered to organize community gatherings, and door-to-door household visits, demonstrating the app’s capabilities and highlighting its potential to revolutionize maternal and child healthcare. Early reports on their household training at the pilot stage indicate that the application was met with curiosity, enthusiasm, and a growing sense of empowerment among the women they encountered.

With just a few taps on their screens, expectant mothers can access vital information, track their prenatal progress, and receive personalized reminders for appointments and immunizations. The impact of LUCY on maternal and child health was felt almost immediately. Expectant mothers who were once apprehensive about the journey to motherhood now found solace and guidance at their fingertips. The app’s support system and referral feature using the integrated Mjali allow women to seek timely medical assistance, reducing the risk of complications and ensuring healthier outcomes for both mothers and babies.

One such success story belonged to Mary (not her real name), a young expectant mother from a remote village in Migori County. Mary had faced a lot of challenges and uncertainties about her pregnancy until she discovered LUCY App. With the app’s help, she is now able to connect with a nearby health facility and receive regular check-ups and prenatal care. She is now empowered, knowing that her well-being and her baby’s health are being taken care of.

The launch of LUCY not only transformed the lives of pregnant women but also served as a catalyst for change in the community. With access to accurate and timely information, expectant mothers become advocates for their own health, sharing their knowledge with friends, family, and neighbours.

LUCY App will go a long way in empowering pregnant women and improving access to healthcare, its impact will undoubtedly be felt far beyond Kenya’s borders. This extraordinary mobile application is not only a testament to the inventiveness of its developers but also a reminder of how technology can be harnessed to bring about positive change in the most vulnerable communities. Through Lucy, the future of maternal and child health is being shaped, one touch at a time.

Author – Noah Wekesa – Communications (Digital)- Amref HQ and Kenya

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