RoadMApp: a feasibility study for a smart travel application to improve maternal health delivery in a low resource setting in Zimbabwe Nyati-Jokomo, Zibusiso; Dabengwa, Israel M; Makacha, Liberty; Nyapwere, Newton; Dube, Yolisa P; Chikoko, Laurine; Vidler, Marianne; Makanga, Prestige T
Background: Travel time and healthcare financing are critical determinants of the provision of quality maternal health care in low resource settings. Despite the availability of pregnancy-related mHealth and smart travel applications, there is a lack of evidence on their usage to travel to health facilities for routine antenatal care and emergencies. There is a shortage of information about the feasibility of using a custom-made mobile technology that integrates smart travel and mHealth. This paper explores the feasibility of implementing a custom-made geographically enabled mobile technology-based tool (RoadMApp) to counter the adverse effects of long travel times for maternal care in Kwekwe District, Zimbabwe. Methods: We frame the paper using the first two steps (listen & plan) of the Spiral Technology Action Research (STAR model). The paper uses an exploratory case study design and Participatory Learning Approaches (PLA) with stakeholders (community members) and in-depth interviews with key informants (health care service providers, pregnant women, transport operators). One hundred ninety-three participants took part in the study. We conducted focus group discussions with pregnant women, women of childbearing age, men (household heads), and elderly women. The discussion questions centered on travel time, availability of transport, cellular network coverage, and perceptions of the RoadMApp application. Data were analysed thematically using Nvivo Pro 12. Results: Most parts of rural Kwekwe are far from health facilities and have an inefficient road and telecommunications network. Hence, it is hard to predict if RoadMApp will integrate into the lives of the community - especially those in rural areas. Since these issues are pillars of the design of the RoadMApp mHealth, the implementation will probably be a challenge. Conclusion: Communities are keen to embrace the RoadMApp application. However, the feasibility of implementing RoadMApp in Kwekwe District will be a challenge because of maternal health care barriers such as poor road network, poor phone network, and the high cost of transport. There is a need to investigate the social determinants of access to maternity services to inform RoadMApp implementation.
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