TENA mobile health service empowering Ethiopian communities in the midst of the pandemic

To further support our work with Ethiopian midwives and empower community members, a mobile interactive voice response (IVR) service has been developed to provide health information on topics related to the pandemic. This mobile IVR service, called TENA (HEALTH in Amharic), is freely available for anyone with a mobile phone – no smartphone required – making the service accessible for the majority of the Ethiopian society.


Midwives from Addis Abeba, Wolkite, Jimma and Debre Birhan have been trained to enrol their clients to the TENA mobile health service. The service reinforces the midwives’ message allowing their clients to receive additional (follow-up) information and reminders. People that register for TENA will receive free calls from sister TENA over the course of three months. Every four days, during 2-minute calls, the listener will learn everything about prevention and treatment of COVID-19; maternal health during the pandemic; sexual and reproductive health during the pandemic; or about what to do when experiencing domestic or gender-based violence and/or mental health problems as a consequence of the pandemic.

The trained Ethiopian midwives find the service very useful and are eager to inform their clients about it since the information in the calls reinforces and complements their message and takes pressure of their workload, strengthening their service delivery and empowering their clients with knowledge. Within three months more than 1.100 people registered to the service from which 75% heard about the service via their healthcare provider. The remaining 25% heard of it via worth of mouth, showing the need for this type of community health information. The service is available in Ethiopia in English, Amharic and Oromia and will be running until the end of this year allowing more Ethiopians to benefit from it.

Health[e]Foundation, EMwA and Viamo are building on their existing partnership in this program running from March 2020 – March 2021, funded by Nuffic, to strengthen the capacity of Ethiopian midwives and empower the community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.