MAMA South Africa
In South Africa, the reach of mobile is staggering. More South Africans use a mobile phone than watch television or listen to the radio, and there are more SIM cards in South Africa than people. At the same time, South Africa’s maternal and infant mortality is unacceptably high. Up to 40% of maternal deaths in South Africa are HIV/AIDS-related. Addressing maternal and child mortality is one of the four priorities of the South African Department of Health.
MAMA South Africa (SA) uses mobile phones to inform and empower mothers to adopt healthy behaviors and to access maternal and child health services. Currently, the service offers:
- A free SMS program offered through two inner-city clinics in Hillbrow, Johannesburg
- A dynamic community portal or mobisite at www.askmama.mobi
- A USSD-based interactive quiz service
MAMA SA will expand to include voice services for mothers with low literacy, and a portal on MXit - a popular mobile social network.
The SMS service provides two messages a week from a mother’s fifth week of pregnancy until her baby is one year old. She can opt in to receive additional information specifically designed for HIV-positive mothers. The mobisite includes stories from real mothers, polls, articles and life guides. By registering with her due date or her baby’s birth date, a mother can ensure that she receives information targeted just for her and her child. The interactive quiz service allows a mother to test her knowledge by dialing in weekly to receive two questions relevant to her pregnancy or baby at that time.
Through these services, MAMA SA provides information for mothers that promotes earlier antenatal care, supports HIV-positive mothers and helps them understand how to prevent transmission to their babies, and encourages exclusive breastfeeding for all mothers.
MAMA SA officially launched on May 9, 2013. A new partnership with Vodacom will sponsor mothers on SMS at Shandukani clinic in Hillbrow, and make www.askmama.mobi available free of charge to all Vodacom subscribers in South Africa – an estimated 25 million people.
The MAMA program is implemented in South Africa by three organizations: Praekelt Foundation, Cell-life and the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI). They bring deep experience in health and technology, including the use of mobile to engage South Africans on critical health issues like HIV/AIDS.
For more information about the MAMA South Africa country program, please visit www.askmama.co.za
“I have friends who are pregnant and HIV positive who are not ready to tell people. So I have referred them to this service since it offers this information privately. I got them to register.”
“I am a single mother and a first time mother with nobody to advise me. The information here really helps me since I have nobody to ask.”
“I smile because the information is so relevant! It is like a mirror showing me what my child is doing at that time. I so look forward to them. I wish they came in five times a week instead of just twice.”
“Give baby ONLY breastmilk for the first 6 months (no water!) & his ARV syrup every day - you'll really reduce his chances of getting HIV.