PUBLIC LIBRARY HEALTH SERVICES
A mother shows a mobile phone with a text messages advising her about what to expect in pregnancy.
Over 90 women received text messages with advice and health tips to guide them through pregnancy, and reminders to visit clinics regularly for check-ups.

Northern Regional Library's e-health service keeps mothers healthy in rural Ghana

Enter the Northern Regional Library in Tamale and you will see a cavernous facility with white and cream-coloured walls that used to be a post office. Walk a bit further and what you will find is rare and wonderful in a country with high illiteracy rates and little access to computers: a traditional library that also serves as a modern technology hub.

In the library’s main reading room, visitors sit in small cubicles reading and working quietly, while down the hall is a robust computer lab used to teach young people essential technology skills.

Nearby in the Maternal Health Corner, women watch videos about what to expect during childbirth on computers pre-loaded with practical information.

The idea for the Technology for Maternal Health project grew out of a monthly public lecture series hosted by Northern Regional Library in Tamale and Savana Signatures, a non-governmental organization that promotes the use of information and computer technology for development.

At one meeting, health workers expressed concern about high numbers of mothers dying in childbirth in Northern Region. They said they believed lack of information was one of the main factors putting pregnant women at risk.

achievements

In less than a year (2012/13), the service sent over 3,000 SMS to 94 pregnant women in rural parts of Northern Ghana, using mass texting software similar to Skype.

Librarians trained 15 health-workers to research the internet for up-to-date maternal health information, and to download material for use in educational sessions at hospitals and clinics. According to health workers, the videos are especially useful, said head librarian, Aaron Kuwornu. “We’re now in the ICT era, or technology or computer age. The library should lead the way,” he added. 

[This article is based on a blog published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.]

They will ask me, is my baby kicking? Sometimes they’ll even tell me if I have a problem with my baby, if she doesn’t kick normally, to contact my midwife.

- Rosina Atchulo, new mother.

FACTS

1

The maternal mortality rate in Ghana is 380 for every 100,000 live births.

2

Northern Regional Library serves an average of 750 people per day.

EIFL-PLIP IN ACTION