London: Researchers have indicated that sending text messages to health workers about malaria treatments could be a cost effective way of improving care for African children with malaria.
The six-month study involving 119 health workers in Kenya showed texts increased malaria treatments following government guidelines.
Half of children received the correct treatment at the end of the study, more than double the starting figure.
Researchers said there was “huge potential” to improve care.
Guidelines on malaria treatments include the correct prescription of anti-malaria drugs - artemether-lumefantrine (AL) - and advice to parents.
Health workers in the study were sent text messages twice a day, five days a week, for six months.
Text messages like “advise mother to finish all AL doses over three days even if the child feels better after two doses” were sent during the study.
At the beginning of the study, 20.5 percent of children were correctly managed, this increased to 49.6percent after the six-month study.
The effect appeared to persist after the texts stopped. Six months after the trial ended, 51.4percent of children were receiving the correct treatment.
“The role of the mobile phone in improving health providers’ performance, health service management and patient adherence to new medicines across much of Africa has a huge potential,” BBC quoted Professor Bob Snow, who headed the research group, as saying.
The study was published by The Lancet.