A Mobile Health Wallet for Pregnancy-Related Health Care in Madagascar: Mixed-Methods Study on Opportunities and Challenges. uri icon


  • Background: Mobile savings and payment systems have been widely adopted to store money and pay for a variety of services, including health care. However, the possible implications of these technologies on financing and payment for maternal health care services-which commonly require large 1-time out-of-pocket payments-have not yet been systematically assessed in low-resource settings.
  • Conclusions: Financial obstacles are a major cause of limited access to skilled maternal health care in Madagascar. An MHW for skilled health care during pregnancy was perceived as a useful and desirable tool to reduce financial barriers among women in urban Madagascar. The design of this tool and the communication strategy will likely be the key to success. Particularly important dimensions of design include technical user friendliness and accessible and personal customer service.
  • Methods: We used a 2-stage cluster random sampling scheme to select a representative sample of women utilizing either routine antenatal (ANC) or routine postnatal care (PNC) in public sector health facilities in 2 of 8 urban and peri-urban districts of Antananarivo, Madagascar (Atsimondrano and Renivohitra districts). In a quantitative structured survey among 412 randomly selected women attending ANC or PNC, we identified saving habits, mobile phone use, media consumptions, and perception of an MHW with both savings and payment functions. To confirm and explain the quantitative results, we used qualitative data from 6 semistructured focus group discussions (24 participants in total) in the same population.
  • Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the structural, contextual, and experiential characteristics of a mobile phone-based savings and payment platform, the Mobile Health Wallet (MHW), for skilled health care during pregnancy among women in Madagascar.
  • Results: 59.3% (243/410, 95% CI 54.5-64.1) saved toward the expected costs of delivery and, out of those, 64.4% (159/247, 95% CI 58.6-70.2) used household cash savings for this purpose. A total of 80.3% (331/412, 95% CI 76.5-84.1) had access to a personal or family phone and 35.7% (147/412, 95% CI 31.1-40.3) previously used Mobile Money services. Access to skilled health care during pregnancy was primarily limited because of financial obstacles such as saving difficulties or unpredictability of costs. Another key barrier was the lack of information about health benefits or availability of services. The general concept of an MHW for saving toward and payment of pregnancy-related care, including the restriction of payments, was perceived as beneficial and practicable by the majority of participants. In the discussions, several themes pointed to opportunities for ensuring the success of an MHW through design features: (1) intuitive technical ease of use, (2) clear communication and information about benefits and restrictions, and (3) availability of personal customer support.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019