Text message reminders shown to improve malaria care

Daily text messaging to healthcare workers was shown to improve the quality of care given to children infected with malaria, a new study shows.

The new study, conducted in Kenya over a six month period, demonstrated that daily reminders sent to healthcare workers were able to improve the care given to nearly 25 percent of children with malaria, according to

As with many countries in the developing world, Kenya’s mobile phone network is expanding. At least 86 percent of the country has access to a mobile phone and there are 22 million mobile phone subscribers.

The implementation of a national anti-malaria program for healthcare workers is seen as an effective means of improving treatment because it would be inexpensive and relatively simple to expand on a national level, reports.

During the study, 119 healthcare workers from 107 rural health facilities across the country were enrolled to potentially receive daily text messages. The messages contained two parts. One was a reminder about pediatric malaria treatment guidelines, the other a motivational quote.

Soon after the text messaging was implemented, artemisinin combination therapy administration improved by 23.7 percent, and it increased to 24.7 percent a few months later. The messaging had a substantial effect on the number of patients receiving their first ACT at a healthcare facility, which increased the number of those receiving counseling for their treatment plan.

"The simplicity and low cost of text messaging means that widespread implementation of an intervention that uses this technology can be done quickly and successfully,” Bob Snow, the head of the Nairobi Group, said, reports. “The cost of a text message in Kenya is about US$0.01, resulting in the cost of full exposure to our intervention of $2.6 per health worker, or $39,000 if scaled up to an estimated 15,000 health workers in all rural facilities nationwide."

The study was conducted by Dejan Zurovac and colleagues from the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Welcome Trust Research Program in Nairobi, Kenya, and published in the British Medical Journal The Lancet.