IGF 2019 WS #362 Digital Tools to Provide mHealth for Pregnant Women

Organizer 1: Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 2: Muge Haseki, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 3: Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania

Speaker 1: Rajendra Poudel, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Debbie Rogers, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Christopher Yoo, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

How do we effectively leverage digital tools to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the one pertaining to health?

What are the considerations of effective and sustainable mobile health services for pregnant women in the Global South?

Relevance to Theme: Digital skills are an important aspect of ensuring that all women are digitally included. Providing relevant mobile health content for women is an important aspect of digital inclusion, given the high rates of maternal mortality in the global south and struggles in access to critical care that can be bridged by using digital technologies. This workshop focuses on the best practices on the delivery of mobile health services for the pregnant women in the Global South to ensure the development of human-centric design frameworks at regional and national levels. It will enable an exchange of views on how to support the use of mhealth services and the empowerment of pregnant women in disadvantaged and underserved areas. Further, it will focus on how to create the conditions needed to facilitate adoption and use of mhealth services by women in consideration of their larger social, cultural, and economic contexts by bringing together different perspectives on mhealth from grassroots implementing organizations.

Relevance to Internet Governance: One of the goals the Internet governance forum has sought to achieve, is to bring together the link between the sustainable development goals and internet access and connectivity. Creation of norms around mhealth delivery and access is key to understanding the link between internet connectivity and health. Further, as internet access transforms healthcare in critical regions of the global south, it becomes even more pertinent


Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Description: There is a growing interest in the delivery of maternal health and information services to pregnant women in underserved populations to digitally include them into mobile health services. There is already strong evidence that mobile-based health information is a good vehicle for health information dissemination, however, most of the efforts are pilot and short term. While audio and video content tend to be inclusive of women with low-literacy levels or vision impairment, they are not conducive in under-resourced environments unlike text and SMS. Therefore, we still have a limited understanding of critical questions around the sustainability and long-term impact of these programs.

This workshop contributes to the policy making efforts by evaluating existing mHealth applications designed for pregnant women, which have scaled at the regional or national levels. These applications include Karangue from Senegal (scaled at the local level), Amakomaya in Nepal (scaled at the regional level), and MomConnect in South Africa (scaled at the national level). The objective of this workshop is to analyze these mhealth services to address the following questions:
How do different at-scale mHealth programs differ along geographic (rural, semi-urban, urban), technical characteristics (SMS, text, audio, video), and partnerships (local, international, and sector)?
What kind of digital literacy training programs are available for pregnant women and health-care workers?
What are the relative costs to deploy these projects?
What is the impact of these projects on health behaviors and outcomes for pregnant women?
What are the socio-cultural barriers to the adoption and use of mHealth services in these contexts, and what similarities and differences exist?

We will take a comparative approach by integrating the perspectives of the implementers on the strengths and weaknesses of different mHealth services. This would give a more informed perspective on existing mHealth applications and help better plan for future initiatives.

The discussion will be moderated as a highly interactive roundtable, with participants from the audience able to ask questions of speakers after their initial (7 minute) remarks.

Expected Outcomes: The session seeks to build a more holistic understanding of mhealth delivery and the challenges that are associated with thee same. Further, it seeks to build cross-regional and interdisciplinary understandings of a complex subject that is tied to many other aspects of internet governance, namely safety, security, privacy and resilience. As mhealth delivery is not and should not be a silo, we hope the IGF will provide a critical forum for discussion with varied experts from different domains, on an area that bears great importance to key sustainable goals.

Onsite Moderator: 

Muge Haseki, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Sharada Srinivasan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Sharada Srinivasan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum:

Participants will sit around a large U-shaped table (seating style permitting). Several roaming microphones will be used to facilitate discussion during the Q&A session (microphone availability permitting). This will facilitate discussion by creating an enabling and comfortable atmosphere where all speakers and participants are given an equal footing in the discussion. The moderator may walk around the room to engage participants as well.

During the open discussion section, open questions will encourage responses from participants and everyone will be given equal weight and equal opportunity to intervene. Walk-in participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion by the moderator who will seek contributions from participants in person and remotely.

We intend to also host a preparatory meeting onsite for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers in advance of the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session. This is key to interaction during the session, as it helps plan for it.

Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, we will explore introducing some questions online in order to kickstart some discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. The remote moderator will play an important role in sharing the ideas of remote speakers/participants and will encourage interventions through video.

Additionally, we may use images and Powerpoint presentations to aid those whose native language may not be English. Video material may also be considered to help engage remote participants, and has been used effectively in our past workshops.

Online Participation: 

We hope to use the online participation tool to its fullest. First, we will use the chat functionality to ask routinely if remote participants are able to follow/participate and interject during the open discussion section. The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The onsite moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. As the remote moderator is one of the organizers and has extensive experience in online moderation at the IGF in the past, she will communicate with the onsite moderator and make necessary interventions during the workshop.

Proposed Additional Tools: Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop. This would involve engagement through social media and our website - we have official twitter, instagram and facebook channels. We are exploring the possibility of incorporating Slack to the modes of discussion, to facilitate collaboration afterward. Organizers will also explore organizing a remote intervention from youth participants through remote hubs.


GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities