Use of a social media network to reduce early neonatal mortality: a preliminary report from a quality improvement project in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Matern Health Neonatol Perinatol. 2017 Nov 13;3:26. doi: 10.1186/s40748-017-0064-y. eCollection 2017.


Background: Perinatal networks have yielded substantial contribution in decreasing the neonatal mortality rate. We present here the process of implementation of a perinatal network in Yaoundé (Cameroon) based on the WhatsApp messenger application as well as some preliminary results and achievements.

Methods: In December 2016, the Yaoundé Perinatal Network was launched, regrouping a multidisciplinary team of health professionals dealing with perinatal care in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The network takes advantage of WhatsApp facilities and is coordinated by 5 administrators. One of their main duties is to have a twice-daily updated status of the available equipment (incubators, oxygen and phototherapy) and bed capacities across the Yaoundé pediatric units. Once a request is sent through the network, other members react, either by giving advice or by telling where the desired equipment or expertise is available at that moment. Then, the baby is immediately prepared for transfer, occurring once the receiving pediatric unit has attested that it is already prepared to receive the new patient.

Results: From December 18, 2016 to July 31, 2017, 139 members representing all the principal maternities and tertiary pediatric units in Yaoundé were already included in the network. The network permitted instant sharing of knowledge and information between its members for an optimal delivery of care. Two hundred and seventeen neonates were transferred using the network; the median time of response after a request had been sent was 19.5 min and the delay in transferring a neonate averaged 70 min.

Conclusion: Taking account of the preliminary promising notes, there is hope that the Yaoundé Perinatal Network will help to reduce neonatal mortality in our context. Lessons learned from its implementation will serve to replicate this innovative health action in other towns of the country. Moreover, this experience could be a source of inspiration for other countries facing similar challenges.

Keywords: Cameroon; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal network; WhatsApp; Yaoundé.