“Want to come? Using SMS to advertise community health events in Mozambique

“Want to come? Using SMS to advertise community health events in Mozambique

Boston, United States6 districts in 2 provinces, Mozambique
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Pathfinder International has changed and saved the lives of women and their families throughout the developing world by increasing access to essential reproductive health services.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Pathfinder is currently implementing two programs to improve access to community-based family planning services and improve quality of life at the household and community level in Mozambique. Both of these projects support a range of community-level health events, including immunization days, health fairs, mobile clinics, and community health discussions, that are aiming to reach adolescents, women, and their families. However, in many communities, knowledge of these events is not reaching women and girls and as a result they are not attending when the events are available. Women and girls are therefore missing valuable opportunities to receive essential health services.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Pathfinder proposes to harness the power of cell phones to ensure that all people, and particularly women and girls, know about these community health activities and have the opportunity to attend. We plan to enroll adolescents, women, and other community health stakeholders in an SMS reminder system that will notify them about upcoming community health events. Messages will be sent two days in advance of the event and will include type of event, day, time, and location. Community leaders, members of community health committees, and community health workers will both help women to enroll in this system, but also receive these messages themselves to distribute orally to the women in their communities who are either not literate or do not have access to a phone.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

During meetings and other community-level interactions, community leaders, members of community health committees, and community health workers will offer women the opportunity to sign up to be notified via SMS of upcoming health events, including an immunization day that is happening in two weeks. Then the project community health workers will collect these phone numbers and compile them at the district level with support from Pathfinder’s district staff. Two days before the immunization day, an SMS will go out to the appropriate numbers on the list. Women, adolescents, and community health stakeholders will receive the SMS reminding them of the health services that will be available, and they will communicate this information to other members of the community, therefore ensuring wider awareness of the immunization day.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our peers are other organizations working to improve uptake of services by offering them at the community level. While there are several organizations working on health services for women and girls in Mozambique, mobile health (mHealth) technology has not yet been harnessed to reach this vulnerable group. Pathfinder already has strong relationships in these communities - with community leaders, through our ongoing support of community health committees, and with our trained community health workers. It is these existing relationships which will bring legitimacy to this initiative and which will allow us to reach the women and girls in these communities.

Founding Story

We realize the investment in our mobile and community based programs are not well attended. In order to address this we created a group of mobile technology experts, technical and programmatic advisers to think of innovative solutions to advertise these events. Pathfinder is actively engaged in the mHealth arena and we want to incorporate more programmatic elements using technology to enhance our interventions.
About You
Pathfinder International
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Pathfinder International

Organization Country

, MA, Boston, Middlesex County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX, 6 districts in 2 provinces

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

We have received a number of awards and global recognition in Family Planning and Sexual Reproductive Health arenas.

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two


Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to health care.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

We are proposing this innovation as a new intervention to support awareness raising of our current programs implemented in Mozambique. We plan to have a large impact that will be scalable within the country and provide international evidence of the successes and challenges we face implementing this program.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Over the next two years, approximately 12,000 women in six districts in two provinces of Mozambique (Montepuez, Chiúre, and Ancuabe districts of Cabo Delgado, and the Nampula, Ribaue, and Memba districts of Nampula) will be notified of at least one community health event relevant to their needs, either via direct SMS or through a community stakeholder who received an SMS. Examples include notifications for immunization days, mobile clinic visits, and local HIV counseling and testing opportunities. Notifying women of these events will increase their attendance, improve their health outcomes, and maximize the resources invested in community healthcare outreach.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Some women may not own a cell phone, or may not be literate. In order to address this, Pathfinder will enroll not only women and adolescents in this program, but also community health stakeholders (including community leaders, members of community health committees, and community health workers). This will ensure that key actors at the community level receive the messages and pass them along to women who either do not have access to a cell phone or who could not read a text. Additionally, messages will also be designed to ensure privacy and cultural acceptability.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

At six months, focus group discussions with community leaders, community health committees, community health workers, and women

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Select the three major types of community health events and design culturally appropriate messages

Task 2

Sensitize community leaders, members of community health committees, and community health workers and collect their phone number

Task 3

Select a Bulk SMS provider and negotiate with two mobile phone carriers for delivery of SMS messages.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

12,000 women in six districts of Mozambique will be notified of at least one community health event relevant to their needs, eit

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Work with community leaders and other health stakeholders to advertise the service and collect phone numbers on a rotating basis

Task 2

Coordinate with other partners offering community level events to have their programs also advertised and negotiate cost-sharing

Task 3

Assign a staff member to develop a registry of women enrolled by message type and send out the SMS messages on a rotating basis

Tell us about your partnerships

This innovation will be implemented in two projects funded by USAID in Mozambique. The projects include a wide range of multisectoral partners, including non-governmental organizations and government partners.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list