Leveraging Telehealth to Improve Access to Maternal and Neonatal Care

While there has been significant progress in reducing newborn and maternal deaths globally, many mothers and newborns are still lost to preventable or treatable causes—particularly in regions with limited access to quality healthcare.

The first 1,000 days of life are a critical window for intervention. To improve demand, timeliness, and access to care for mothers and newborns during this postnatal period, Living Goods partnered with Health X Africa to launch a telehealth experiment in June 2023, in our Busia, Kenya learning site. The innovation combines a hybrid model of support through community health workers (CHWs) and a virtual platform.

The virtual platform may be improving timely access to vital maternal and neonatal health services and information.


In this 11-month exploratory pilot, pregnant women and new mothers can not only initiate CHW support but also access a 24-hour hotline (staffed by healthcare providers), receive educational messages, report the delivery of a baby, and access a danger sign checklist. This builds households’ agency to pursue care for potentially high-risk cases.

In two months, we have onboarded 17 CHWs in Busia County and registered close to 100 users on the virtual platform. This pilot aims to reach 400 women. We are building evidence around which channels of communication are fit for purpose for remote communities.

Early indications show the virtual platform may be improving timely access to vital maternal and neonatal health services and information. In the second phase of this pilot, we will focus on refining the virtual tools to support households’ risk assessments and strengthen the design to improve compliance by new mothers to all three postnatal care touchpoints in the six weeks after birth. By 2024 we will evaluate the outcomes, including postnatal care service uptake and cost efficiencies.

Wilmina Etyang, a dedicated Community Health Volunteer (CHV) from Moding Location, Teso North Sub-County, Busia County, actively engages with Faith Barasa during a household visit, focusing on important data collection and health management.


Busia: CHWs Sustain Exemplary Performance

Additionally, in Q3, community health workers (CHWs) in the Busia learning site continued to meet nearly all their targets, as expected for a learning site where all DESC elements (digital tools, training and medicines, supervision, and timely compensation) are in place.

We also maintained strong collaboration with our government partners.  We have launched an action plan focused on family planning which is below the ambitious targets we set this year. The action plan includes improving coverage, referral rates, and services mapping.

Overall, we are enthusiastic about the CHW performance in Busia County. It remains the gold standard for governments, partners, and community health implementers, and shows what is possible when CHWs are well-supported.

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