Ownership and use of mobile phones among health workers, caregivers of sick children and adult patients in Kenya: cross-sectional national survey

The rapid growth in mobile phone penetration and use of Short Message Service (SMS) has been seen as a potential solution to improve medical and public health practice in Africa. Several studies have shown effectiveness of SMS interventions to improve health workers’ practices, patients’ adherence to medications and availability of health facility commodities. To inform policy makers about the feasibility of facility-based SMS interventions, the coverage data on mobile phone ownership and SMS use among health workers and patients are needed. This paper argues that mobile phone ownership and SMS use is ubiquitous among Kenyan health workers in the public sector. Among patients they serve the coverage in phone ownership and SMS use is lower and disparities exist with respect to gender, age, education, literacy, urbanization and poverty. Some of the disparities on SMS use can be addressed through the modalities of mHealth interventions and enhanced implementation processes while further growth in mobile phone penetration is needed to reduce the ownership gap.

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