The MAMA Bangladesh program is called Aponjon (meaning ‘the close/dear one’ in Bangla). After a year of pilot testing, Aponjon was launched nationally in December 2012 by Bangladeshi social enterprise, Dnet, in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh MOHFW. Dnet also brokered partnerships with six outreach organizations, every mobile network operator in the country, and three large corporate partners. In the 2+ years since launch, it has grown to have reached more than 1.2 million mothers and families and trained more than 3,000 community agents and brand promoters who assist subscribers to sign up for the service.
Information is delivered twice weekly in one of two forms: SMS, or 60-second voice messages. The voice messages are a mix of “mini-skit” messages, with local actors playing the roles of a doctor, pregnant woman, mother and mother-in-law; and direct messages. In the dramatic format, characters enact scenarios in an entertaining and educational way. Dialogues range from the doctor explaining the importance of iron-rich food, to reminding the pregnant character that it is time for her medical checkup. Messages around medical emergencies and warning signs are in the direct, straightforward format.
Dnet also created a unique service specifically for husbands and other household members, which reinforces messages provided to the mother and encourages family involvement in healthy decision making around pregnancy, birth and infant care. This service adds one additional message per week, increasing the total from two to three messages weekly. In addition, Dnet offers a counseling line to subscribers which serves as a direct channel to communicate with a doctor about health problems.
MAMA Bangladesh relies on multiple revenue streams, including donor funding, corporate partnerships, mobile operator discounts and user fees. The Aponjon service, which costs two taka (a few US cents) per message, aims to provide the messages free to at least 20 percent of the poorest subscribers. MAMA Bangladesh is also exploring the development of higher-end apps for upper-income audiences that would help cross-subsidize the basic service for the poorest mothers in Bangladesh.
MAMA Bangladesh is implemented by Dnet, a social enterprise. Dnet has secured a number of critical partnerships that span government agencies, telecommunications operators, outreach partners, and the private sector.
For more information about the MAMA Bangladesh country program, please visit www.aponjon.com.bd.
“This is your doctor (daktar apa) speaking. You need plenty of iron for your baby to grow well. Having enough iron will also help reduce the amount you bleed at birth.
Please listen carefully. Taro stems, cauliflower, spinach, red gram lentils, eggs, chicken meat, liver and fish contain iron. Lemon, oranges and grapes will help your body absorb the iron. Also take iron tablets regularly along with your meals.”
“I was nervous about the birth of my second child but the messages helped me understand what to expect and how to care for her. I have learned many things I didn’t know when my first child was born.”
Asha Rani, Aponjon subscriber