The use of cell phones and radio communication systems to reduce delays in getting help for pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review

Glob Health Action. 2015 Sep 10;8:28887. doi: 10.3402/gha.v8.28887. eCollection 2015.


Background: Delays in getting medical help are important factors in the deaths of many pregnant women and unborn children in the low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Studies have suggested that the use of cell phones and radio communication systems might reduce such delays.

Objectives: We review the literature regarding the impact of cell phones and radio communication systems on delays in getting medical help by pregnant women in the LMIC.

Design: Cochrane Library, PubMed, Maternity and Infant care (Ovid), Web of Science (ISI), and Google Scholar were searched for studies relating to the use of cell phones for maternal and child health services, supplemented with hand searches. We included studies in LMIC and in English involving the simple use of cell phones (or radio communication) to either make calls or send text messages.

Results: Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria. All the studies, while of various designs, demonstrated positive contributory effects of cell phones or radio communication systems in reducing delays experienced by pregnant women in getting medical help.

Conclusions: While the results suggested that cell phones could contribute in reducing delays, more studies of a longer duration are needed to strengthen the finding.

Keywords: cell phone; childbirth; emergency medical services; maternal health services; mhealth; mobile phone; pregnant; radio communication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Developing Countries
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Parturition
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Radio*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Text Messaging / instrumentation
  • Time-to-Treatment