Family planning and text messages: How mobile phones can save lives

The numbers on maternal and child mortality around the world are staggering. Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. A notable 99 percent of these maternal deaths occur in developing countries, where over 220 million women lack access to effective contraception and family planning services. Statistics indicate that if even half that number, or 120 million of those women, had adequate access to family planning information, the lives of 3 million children would be saved.

In recent years, many people have dedicated themselves to bridging the gap between this sizeable problem and a workable solution. And, as it turns out, answers have come in the form of something as common as a mobile phone. With more than three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants having mobile connectivity, millions of women can benefit from information delivered through what has become a standard 21st century way of communicating: text messages.

It was the growing use of mobile phones and text messaging in developing countries that prompted FHI 360 to develop innovative ways to use technology to improve family planning services. In 2008, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, FHI 360’s Program Research for Strengthening Services (PROGRESS) project started developing Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH), an opt-in text message-based health communication program that provides information about family planning methods to anyone who wants it who has access to a mobile phone.

More recently, FHI 360’s m4RH team is proud to have collaborated with the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) on a new set of culturally sensitive, postpartum family planning messages that women can receive on their mobile phones. These messages are designed to educate mothers on the benefits of birth spacing and reproductive health and help them make informed decisions, providing valuable information that can save lives.

You can sign up online to join the MAMA community, where you can request access to a suite of MAMA content, including core messages and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, breastfeeding, and family planning messages. MAMA’s postpartum family planning mobile messages are free of charge and accessible through

Learn more about FHI 360’s m4RH by visiting

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