It is estimated that for every 100,000 live births in South Africa, 685 mothers will die (as at 2012). With these alarming maternal health statistics before us, it’s time technology and communities came together to inform, protect and care for mothers and their babies.
With the widespread use of mobile phones across South Africa, it makes sense that information is easily disseminated and delivered to mothers via cellphones.
The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Health (MAMA) is a global movement that seeks to use mobile technologies to improve the health and lives of mothers in developing nations. The global project expands to initiatives in South Africa, India and Bangladesh, and enjoys support from Johnson & Johnson and USAID. The MAMA South African project brings together the Praekelt Foundation, Cell-Life and Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute (WRHI).
The MAMA programme is a powerful channel through which to support and educate mothers, providing them with life-saving information through an incredibly intimate medium. In South Africa, Cell-Life found that over 90 percent of women who registered to use the MAMA service during a trial conducted at a South African medical facility, have found it be a useful, relevant and engaging service.
The MAMA service enables pregnant women and the mothers of young children to sign up for free SMSs, and receive information and support related to pregnancy and baby care, and links through to more services via USSD, MXit and a Mobisite.
MAMA provides pregnant women and mothers with information and support via their mobile phones, across five mobile channels:
MAMA MOBI – visit askmama.mobi on your mobile handset for health information and helpful tips on pregnancy, labour and childcare.
MAMA SMS – this service sends SMSs that support and inform mothers in selected communities, in co-operation with local healthcare facilities and organisations. Users can select to receive messages in isiZulu, isiXhosa, SeSotho, English and Afrikaans. This SMS service is entirely free, and interested users just need to dial the Please Call Me number to start receiving messages. Cell-Life also provides an additional messaging service that focuses on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and HIV prevention.
MAMA USSD – using the same technology that enables you to recharge your airtime, MAMA USSD enables mothers to access vital information even if their mobile phones cannot access the Internet.
MAMA MXIT – this channel uses the MXit mobile social network and operates a portal for young men and women to access important health information related to pregnancy and parenting.
MAMA VOICE – this channel uses voicemail services to deliver a pre-recorded message to women who have registered for the service.
The MAMA service is advertised on posters and pamphlets in healthcare facilities, which are provided to the facilities free of charge. The posters and pamphlets inform women how to sign themselves up for the service, and how to stop the SMSs should they need to.
For more information, visit: http://www.askmama.co.za/