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31 de May de 2018Whatsapp messages to improve the lives of pregnant women and mothers

The 2013 infant mortality rate in the city of Buenos Aires increased from 6.7 per 1,000 live births to 8.5 per 1,000 live births. The Red Primeros Meses (RPM) social program was created to address this issue and successfully identified several factors to reverse this trend. 

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The initiative is part of the Ciudadanía Porteña Con Todo Derecho [Rights for Citizens of Buenos Aires] program and its goal is to ensure the health of women and their babies by granting subsidies to help mothers and pregnant women attend all checkups during pregnancy and throughout the baby’s first year.

Given the importance of the intervention and the fact that the program still has the ability to accept more families, the Network team, along with the city of Buenos Aires, have decided to use new techniques to increase participation among eligible families registered in the Ciudadanía Porteña program. 

To that end, they applied to the I International CAF Call for Impact Evaluations for Better Management, held in 2015, and were subsequently selected to receive help from CAF -development bank of Latin America- in designing and implementing an impact evaluation. This will consist of sending Whatsapp messages to families eligible for the Ciudadanía Porteña Con Todo Derecho program, ensuring that they are aware of the program, its benefits and the registration process. Messages will be sent to families with at least one woman between the ages of 12 and 49, a pregnant woman or one child under the age of one who are not registered in the Red Primeros Meses program. 

The messages will invite families that could potentially benefit from the RPM program to sign up to receive the conditional transfer. This intervention appeals to social behavior to increase the likelihood that the message will be effective in encouraging families to sign up for the RPM program. Emphasizing the program’s economic and non-economic benefits stand out among these aspects. 

The intervention is designed so that eligible families are divided into three groups; of these, two will receive messages and one group will serve as a control group (and not receive any messages).

  • The first treatment group will receive 10 messages highlighting the non-economic benefits of using the controls during pregnancy and throughout the first year of the baby’s life (which are provided with the help of the network). These benefits cover healthcare for the mother and child, including follow-up after pregnancy to detect anomalies, strengthening the mother-child bond and the possibility of receiving guidance during the pregnancy and the baby’s first year.
  • The second treatment group will receive 10 messages highlighting the economic benefits of enrolling in the RPM program, i.e., subsidies the participants will receive and the potential uses thereof.

This experiment will help us ascertain whether such messages are useful in increasing enrollment in the RPM program, and which of the two types of messaging is ultimately more effective. 

By registering RPM program beneficiaries, which puts more focus on the Ciudadanía Porteña Con Todo Derecho team, we will be able to see who has registered on the network, whether they have received the transfers, and if so, how many. In addition, we will explore the possibility of analyzing to what extent users are complying with the controls, how many they have attended, and if they have done so on time, according to the evaluation panel to which they are assigned. 

The RPM program aims to reach all women in families covered by the Ciudadanía Porteña program and thus foster the plan’s growth. This experiment in partnership with CAF will allow for the generation of information on the program’s beneficiary recruiting process. In addition, necessary changes may be made to ensure that more women have access to the program, thus increasing the likelihood that women in vulnerable families will receive proper care during pregnancy and for the first months of their babies’ lives.

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