Women’s use of information and communication technology in accessing maternal and child health information in Nigeria
This study investigated the use of information and communication technology (ICT) by women in Nigeria to access maternal and child health (MCH) information, as well as the influence of its use on their health practices. As the relevance of ICT increases as a vital tool for communicating MCH information, an understanding of its use by women to access such information becomes pertinent. A total enumeration of health facilities in Nigeria with on-going e-health projects was conducted. A short questionnaire was completed by 1001 women selected out of 4975 registered mothers at these health facilities using the convenience sampling technique. Nine focus group discussion sessions were also conducted with 30 mothers. MCH information was accessed through mobile phones (76.0%), radio (66.9%), television (55.1%), the Internet (27.3%) and the public address system/projector (2.5%). The MCH information themes accessed were on: appointment reminders (45.0%), emotional changes (39.5%), family planning (34.0%), nutrition (32.8%), medication (30.6%) and breastfeeding (26.0%). Constraints such as unreliable power supply, cost associated with the use of ICT and poor mobile phone network limited the use of ICT. This study has identified the mobile phone as an important ICT tool used in accessing MCH information. It also showed that the use of ICT tools to access MCH information can influence the health practices of women, either positively or negatively. This has implications for policy formulation and design of ICT-powered MCH intervention programmes.