How MEval-SIFSA’s MomConnect Interventions Contributed to mHealth Strategy Implementation – A Learning Agenda Assessment in South Africa

Author(s): MEASURE Evaluation - SIFSA

Year: 2017

How MEval-SIFSA’s MomConnect Interventions Contributed to mHealth Strategy Implementation – A Learning Agenda Assessment in South Africa Abstract:

MEASURE Evaluation–Strategic Information for South Africa (MEval-SIFSA)  and other key stakeholders, provided technical support for the rollout of the MomConnect mobile health (mHealth) intervention. Though the project maintained a diverse portfolio of activities, supporting the implementation of the mHealth strategy (2015–2019) of South Africa’s Department of Health (DOH) was one of its major goals. Recognizing its role in both MomConnect and the mHealth strategy implementation, MEval-SIFSA designed this assessment to document the intersection of these two activities. Specifically, this assessment sought to answer the question, “How have MEval-SIFSA’s MomConnect interventions contributed to mHealth strategy implementation?” The assessment asks how MomConnect has contributed to, enabled, or catalysed the implementation of key aspects of the mHealth strategy.

The study was a mixed methods assessment that relies primarily upon key informant interviews (KIIs) with individual representatives of key stakeholder organizations in both the private and public sector. The assessment was designed to inform MEval-SIFSA’s learning agenda, but it also has applications outside of the project for a wide array of mHealth stakeholders in South Africa.

The assessment found that knowledge and use of the mHealth strategy is fairly limited among respondents, apart from those directly involved in its development. Although respondents see the necessity of having an mHealth strategy to articulate DOH priorities and set standards and norms, they all felt that the strategy has yet to be implemented in any significant way.

The following are specific ways MomConnect has had an impact on the mHealth environment more broadly, but not the mHealth strategy specifically: raising the visibility of mHealth, contributing to health information system (HIS) interoperability conversations, providing a case study for national scale-up of an mHealth intervention, and standing as an example of broad stakeholder engagement. Many respondents saw MomConnect as a forerunner that paved the way for future mHealth activities to be successfully implemented.

MomConnect was implemented within the unique South African context, and much of its success can be attributed to the enabling environment that was ripe for this type of intervention. Implementation efforts benefitted from significant government support and political will, sufficient funding and donor support, strong technical partnerships, individual champions, and good timing.

Noting the need to improve mHealth strategy implementation to increase the likelihood that future mHealth activities would succeed, respondents called for stronger DOH leadership, greater government transparency in planning and contracting, more practical guidelines for how to implement policies, dedicated funding for mHealth activities, and the formation of committees to ensure the success of strategy implementation. Respondents saw these activities as necessary for South Africa to have a rich and diverse mHealth environment that meets the DOH goal of improving health.

Filed under: South Africa , Maternal Health , MEval-SIFSA , MHealth