IFGH 2012: Mobile Phones as an Effective Way of Delivering Health Messages and Promoting Health Education in the Communities and Workplace: Experiences from Uganda

January 31, 2012


Authors:Hoefman B., Loggers JW.

Author Affiliations:

Option 2– Lessons from the field; project and programme evaluations; and syntheses or analyses. Presented as – Oral Presentation (unable to attend)


Available data from the Sub-Saharan Africa indicates an average of one doctor for every 20,000 people. The same region is also known to have high prevalence of tropical diseases, limited accessibility to healthcare and limited knowledge of disease-preventative mechanisms. In this case study, we present avenues where the use of mobile phone technologies may present an opportunity to deliver preventative and treatment healthcare information among communities and at workplaces within resource-low economies.


This was designed as a series of SMS-based quizzes conducted by Text to Change among 12,494 Ugandan mobile phone users. The first quiz was conducted between 28 January and 6 April 2009 among an intended 10,000 community-based participants in Northwest Uganda, whereas the second quiz was conducted between 13 August and 30 September 2009 among 2,494 factory workers at the Southeast Ugandan district. Participants were enrolled into both quizzes through public media and initial contact SMS. Eighteen incentive-based SMS health message questions were sent to the participants’ mobile phones with directions on how to respond.


Participation rates were defined as the number of participants who responded to any of the quizzes questions after the initial SMS-contact. Overall participation rate to the two quizzes was 52%, and this was higher among the workplace-based factory workers compared to the community-based participants. Participants showed a general awareness of HIV prevention – the accuracy level to all eighteen questions sent out was 89%, which was above what we would expect if all correct responses were answered by sheer guessing. In these surveys, literacy was not deemed as a major hindrance to health message dissemination, since all sent and received SMS were in English.


Mobile telephone SMS may provide an effective complementary platform to the existing informative and preventative healthcare activities among community-based and workplace-based populations residing in resource-low settings.



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