Newswise — Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) to prevent dehydration during diarrheal episodes is one of the most effective and affordable interventions to reduce child mortality and morbidity. Yet ORT has yet to be widely adopted in underdeveloped nations. In a pilot study, Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, is investigating whether mobile health (mHealth) technologies can encourage more widespread use of ORT. Her work is supported by Penn’s Global Health Partnership program.
“The expansion of cell phone ownership around the world has created an unprecedented opportunity to improve healthcare delivery and public health interventions for underserved populations, particularly women and children,” says Dr. Buttenheim, a public health researcher and social demographer.
The work of Dr. Buttenheim and colleagues will aim to determine the potential of mHealth to address ORT in Cono Norte, a community of 30,000 in Arequipa, Peru. Research shows that mHealth can strengthen efforts in disease monitoring, remote diagnosis, medication adherence, appointment reminders, and health education and promotion.
Through cell phones, mothers will receive timely and targeted text messages about treatment of diarrheal symptoms (including learning the closest retail location for ORT packets) and then provide information about the health status and treatment outcomes of their children to a local health clinic.
Dr. Buttenheim and colleagues plan to extend their work to other areas of maternal, newborn, and child health.
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