January 01, 2013



Every year more than 250,000 women and 1 million babies die during childbirth in Africa, many of them at home. Women cite disrespectful care, overcrowded facilities, and lack of accessible counseling services as reasons they avoid giving birth at hospitals. Subsequently, these women often receive low-quality care that results in high rates of maternal and newborn mortality. 

Jacaranda Health, which joined the IiH network in 2013, partners with government hospitals to deliver low-cost and sustainable solutions to improve quality of care for mothers and newborns. The organization has developed a package of innovative solutions that address the drivers of poor maternal and neonatal health (MNH) outcomes in Kenya:  

  • PROMPTS is a two-way digital health platform for new and expectant mothers that increases care-seeking behavior at the right time and place.
  • MENTORS is a facility-based program that increases and sustains government healthcare provider skills in basic and emergency obstetric and newborn care.

Currently, PROMPTS reaches more than 130,000 women across the country. In recent weeks, the number of questions about COVID-19 from anxious mothers has grown every day. This highlights an important role for maternal and newborn health organizations: provide accurate information about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and babies and how to seek care during this time. 

In response to COVID-19, Jacaranda is adapting PROMPTS to address the needs of mothers and babies during the crisis, heeding lessons learned in the maternal health space during the2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. One tragic consequence of the spread of Ebola was a decline in maternal care-seeking for fear of exposure to the disease in hospitals, and a corresponding increase in maternal deaths and stillbirths. 

Jacaranda Health is meeting this need by adding fresh COVID-19 content on PROMPTS and creating additional tools. The organization now offers two COVID-19 information Bots on SMS and Telegram to provide instant responses to frequently asked coronavirus, pregnancy and post-partum questions: one for new and expectant mothers and the other for frontline, government healthcare providers. Jacaranda is sharing this tool with other organizations in the maternal-infant healthcare space. 

The organization also supports a network of nurse mentors—111 government hospital practitioners in more than 150 facilities—and five county government partners by developing resource-efficient tools that help providers in maternity wards: 

  • Track changes in MNH service delivery by maintaining a log of closures and service hour changes, and by sharing the information with PROMPTS users so they know when and where to seek care.
  • Obtain up-to-date and accurate information via COVID-19 Continuing Medical Education (CME) for training use at partner facilities, including evidence on international and national guidelines for antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Share best practices across counties and learn from each other.
  • Transition to remote work by deploying digital communications tools to government partners.

Jacaranda Health is now digitizing all of its tools and resources for government nurse mentors and piloting virtual antenatal care visits.

To learn more, to support Jacaranda Health, and to share information, please visit https://www.jacarandahealth.org/blog/supporting-government-health-systems-to-care-for-mums-and-babies-through-covid-19, https://www.jacarandahealth.org/covid19-response, or https://www.jacarandahealth.org/.