mHealth for Family Planning in West Africa: A Needs Assessment and Costed Solutions
Family planning is one of the most cost-effective, high-yield interventions for improving health and accelerating development. West Africa faces persistently inadequate access, with nearly one in three women in the region reporting unmet need. Only 9 percent of married women in francophone West Africa use modern family planning methods.
The growing ubiquity of mobile phone ownership throughout the region presents an unprecedented opportunity to reach end users with health information and tools and to facilitate program management. Phone ownership in urban areas is high, from an estimated 82 percent in Niger to 92 percent in Cote d’Ivoire. To capitalize on this opportunity, United States Agency for International Development West Africa (USAID/WA) commissioned Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) in 2013 to conduct a landscape analysis of mhealth (mobile health) in the region and in 2014, supported initial planning activities with mobile operator Orange to explore options for leveraging mobile technology in the region.
This report summarizes options for financing mhealth interventions to address key family planning barriers in West Africa. Using two illustrative solutions, SHOPS estimated costs and financial contributions across three sets of partners (governments, mobile operators, and USAID) over a 3-year time period for two proposed solutions. One solution is a demand generation intervention to provide recorded audio content with information and role model stories about family planning. The second is a short message service (SMS) data collection platform to improve visibility of product and service availability at the community level. To secure long-term support from a regional mobile operator, SHOPS identified drivers of engagement, including the exclusive ability to brand and market services.