Kenya mobile phone penetration is over 80%. The use of short message service (SMS) as an approach to raising awareness and influencing positive health actions has been widely explored. As part of a wider behavior change and communication (BCC) campaign aimed at increasing uptake and intake of iron and folic acid supplementation (IFAS) among 4719 pregnant women, SMS was used to remind mothers to go for the recommended ANC visits and to take IFAS daily to help build adherence.
One-week prospective study was carried out with 369 pregnant women identified by CHWs from 13 sub counties where community-based IFAS BCC activities were implemented. The two way SMS system used allowed the recipients to reply and ask questions. Of the stratified random sample of 369 women, 312 were interviewed one month after the intervention started by administering a questionnaire by phone interviews.
88 % of the respondents reported having received IFAS text messages. 75% of the respondents reported to have taken their IFA supplements daily during their pregnancy as a result of receiving the text reminders. A significant proportion of the interviewees (30%) also started taking IFAS with meals. Majority of the respondents (69%) had also been exposed to IFAS messages through facility based health workers while 18% and 14% got messages through radio and TV respectively.
Use of mobile texting services to send key IFAS messages as part of an integrated wider program to primary audiences such as pregnant women can contribute to the adoption good nutrition practices such as daily consumption of IFAS.