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m-MIST Project brings Hope to Pregnant Women in Hinterlands

By Bonkung Handerson

Medical intervention via mobile phone to pregnant women who attend peripheral health facilities is now a possibility in Cameroon. Stakeholders of the Mobile Information Service via Telephone (MIST) project made this revelation on October 21, 2022 during an evaluation meeting of the pilot phase conducted in Ndop Health District and Nkwen Baptist Hospital in the past one year.

The meeting that held at the Director of Health Services Conference Hall at the Baptist Center in Bamenda brought together stakeholders at the point of care to pregnant women. These included: Dr. Ambe, representing the NW Regional Delegate of Health who was unavoidably absent, District Medical Officers across the region with their maternity ward head nurses, experts from the CBC Health Services led by the Director, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih and experts from the University of Alabama (UAB) USA led by Prof. Allan Tita who participated via zoom.

Opening the workshop, Prof. Tih Pius Tih Pius said the m-MIST project is a welcome initiative that has its place in Cameroon’s public health system given that the country still tops the list of maternal and child deaths in the sub region. He thanked the University of Alabama for pioneering and sponsoring the project so far. The public health expert pledged to collaborate with the Ministry of Health through her NW Delegation to foster the project beyond the pilot phase. Prof. Tih challenged participants to contribute significantly through their discussions in the meeting towards building the capacities of nurses and midwives to better serve pregnant women in the hinterlands.

Sitting for the Regional Delegate of Health, the project focal point at the Delegation, Dr. Ambe rejoiced that the pilot phase of the m-MIST project in Ndop District proved a strong point to give credit to the thought of expanding the project to all the 20 districts in the NW region. In a brilliant presentation via zoom, the project initiator, Prof. Allan Tita and his team from the UAB disclosed that the m-MIST project is a novelty, not only in Cameroon, but also in Alabama USA where the response is even more rapid. According to the experts, the project has successfully gone through the first two phases; to adapt, develop and introduce the m-MIST initiative to Cameroonians and to test the project in a district in Cameroon, which was in Ndop. The third phase, Prof. Allan revealed, was to evaluate the pilot phase and take a decision alongside all the stakeholders to replicate the project to the 20 health districts in the NW region.

The purpose of the study is to assess barriers, develop and evaluate an integrated mobile phone- based m-MIST provider support system to improve pregnancy care and outcomes in Cameroon, Africa. The m-MIST intervention include a clinical support-hotline presently based at Nkwen Baptist Hospital, where a pregnant woman that visits a peripheral facility receives direct consultation via the hotline staffed by maternity care workers backed-up by obstetrics and pediatric experts.

Prof. Allan joined his voice to the opinion of other stakeholders that this project could subsequently extend to other health conditions. He hailed the collaboration of the NW Delegation of Health and congratulated the local team for a job well done.

It should be noted that m-MIST is a collaboration between the University of Alabama led by Prof. Allan Tita, the CBC Health Services led by Prof. Tih Pius, the University of Buea having as leader, Prof. Halle Ekane and the Delegation of Public Health for the NW region.