TulaSalud: An m-health system for maternal and infant mortality reduction in Guatemala

J Telemed Telecare. 2015 Jul;21(5):283-91. doi: 10.1177/1357633X15575830. Epub 2015 Mar 12.


The Guatemalan NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) TulaSalud has implemented an m-health project in the Department of Alta Verapaz. This Department has 1.2 million inhabitants (78% living in rural areas and 89% from indigenous communities) and in 2012, had a maternal mortality rate of 273 for every 100,000 live births. This m-health initiative is based on the provision of a cell phone to community facilitators (CFs). The CFs are volunteers in rural communities who perform health prevention, promotion and care. Thanks to the cell phone, the CFs have become tele-CFs who able to carry out consultations when they have questions; send full epidemiological and clinical information related to the cases they attend to; receive continuous training; and perform activities for the prevention and promotion of community health through distance learning sessions in the Q'eqchí and/or Poqomchi' languages. In this study, rural populations served by tele-CFs were selected as the intervention group while the control group was composed of the rural population served by CFs without Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools. As well as the achievement of important process results (116,275 medical consultations, monitoring of 6,783 pregnant women, and coordination of 2,014 emergency transfers), the project has demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in maternal mortality (p < 0.05) and in child mortality (p = 0.054) in the intervention group compared with rates in the control group. As a result of the telemedicine initiative, the intervention areas, which were selected for their high maternal and infant mortality rates, currently show maternal and child mortality indicators that are not only lower than the indicators in the control area, but also lower than the provincial average (which includes urban areas).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Guatemala / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Young Adult