Byline: Kelechi. Odinaka, Benedict. Edelu, Kingsley. Achigbu
Background: Missed immunisation appointments are a common occurrence among Nigerian children, and it is due largely to forgetfulness on the part of the parents/caregivers. Although the use of mobile phones is widely available to Nigerian mothers, the readiness of Nigerian mothers to accept a mobile phone short message service (SMS) for interacting with immunisation providers, specifically, for tracking immunisations appointments, notifying absence of vaccines and accessing other vaccine information remains uncertain. Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the acceptance of mobile phone text messaging for childhood immunisation reminders by Nigerian mothers as well as its determinants. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study carried out over 3 months (June-August 2017) at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Nigeria. Results: A total of 253 mothers were interviewed. About 27% of the mothers reported to have missed their babies' immunisation appointments in the past. Mothers who are currently married (?2 = 5.954, P = 0.015) and those with higher levels of education (?2 = 13.001, P = 0.005) were significantly less likely to forget their child's immunisation dates. Majority (75.9%) believe that reminders will reduce missed immunisation appointments. A greater proportion (61.7%) of the mothers would accept a phone reminder for their babies' immunisation appointments. Many (76.9%) of them were willing to pay for such services. Conclusion: Forgetfulness is one of the major reasons for missed immunisation appointments among mothers in Nigeria. Considering the acceptance of SMS by the majority of the mothers studied, there is no doubt that its adoption in Nigeria will create a positive impact in improving immunisation of children in Nigeria.
Immunisation is a cost-effective public health intervention that ensures child survival. It plays a crucial role to achieve sustainable development goal 3. Despite the clear evidence in reducing vaccine-preventable diseases morbidity and mortality, the adherence to routine childhood immunisation in most Sub-Saharan Africa countries, including Nigeria is unsatisfactory. National data suggest that only about 21% of children 12-23 months received all required immunisation before their first birthday.
One of the major barriers to delivering routine childhood immunisation, especially in resource-poor countries, is the difficulty health-care providers have in communicating with parents regarding the need for and timeliness of vaccination.
Vaccination reminder and recall systems are cost-effective methods through which parents of children in need of vaccination are identified and contacted to bring their children for vaccination. There are several ways of notifying/reminding parents and guardians notably the use of traditional methods such as face-to-face communication, pamphlets, immunisation cards and recently newer technologies. The use of modern technology to serve as immunisation appointment reminders has increased over the past few years. It includes the use of E-mails, computer-generated auto-dialer phone calls and mobile phone text-messaging systems, known as short message service (SMS)., The use of mobile phone technology to serve as immunisation reminder may be viewed as an effective way of improving adherence to immunisation schedule because mobile phones are a common commodity across age, gender and socioeconomic group.,...