Article Abstract

What experts think about integrating mobile health into routine immunization service delivery in Nigeria

Authors: Godson Ugwoke Eze, Obehi Hilda Okojie

Abstract

Background: Routine immunization (RI), like other essential health services, could benefit from mobile telephony and especially from the current trend of their increased use in health service delivery. SMS text messages have been recorded to be highly effective in many settings around the world and could be used for reminders and recalls to improve RI performance in Nigeria. This qualitative study assessed the state of RI services, obtained expert opinion on integration of mobile health (mHealth) into RI, and also identified potential threats to such an initiative.
Methods: In-depth Interviews were held with experts in RI and Primary Health Care from different arms of the health sector in Edo State Nigeria. Their responses were summarized and coded to allow for easy synthesis and interpretation of information.
Results: Among the experts, there was widespread support for the adoption of mHealth services into RI delivery but with a caution on threats to its success, including inconsistent supply of electricity, poor mobile telephone networks, and the possibility of a lack of political will and funding support from the government.
Conclusions: Although RI performance appears fairly satisfactory in the study setting, adoption of mHealth is highly encouraged to sustain the gains. User-friendliness, interoperability and adaptations to fit peculiar financial and health care models must be kept in view while customizing software solutions for this setting. Also, the store and forward system for handling health information appears more appropriate in this setting to maximize the effectiveness of mHealth despite the shortfall in infrastructure.

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