Understanding mSOS: A qualitative study examining the implementation of a text-messaging outbreak alert system in rural Kenya

Toda M, Njeru I, Zurovac D, Kareko D, Tipo OS, Mwau M, Morita K
PLoS One. 2017;12

Permenent descriptor

Outbreaks of epidemic diseases pose serious public health risks. To overcome the hurdles of sub-optimal disease surveillance reporting from the health facilities to relevant authorities, the Ministry of Health in Kenya piloted mSOS (mobile SMS-based disease outbreak alert system) in 2013-2014. In this paper, we report the results of the qualitative study, which examined factors that influence the performances of mSOS implementation. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 disease surveillance coordinators and 32 in-charges of rural health facilities that took part in the mSOS intervention. Drawing from the framework analysis, dominant themes that emerged from the interviews are presented. All participants voiced their excitement in using mSOS. The results showed that the technology was well accepted, easy to use, and both health workers and managers unanimously recommended the scale-up of the system despite challenges encountered in the implementation processes. The most challenging components were the context in which mSOS was implemented, including the lack of strong existing structure for continuous support supervision, feedback and response action related to disease surveillance. The study revealed broader health systems issues that should be addressed prior to and during the intervention scale-up.