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.