Finalist category: Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award, Winner, 2017
A mobile platform saving lives in South Africa
Praekelt.org, founded in 2007, designs and develops mobile technologies to deliver essential information and vital services to more than 100 million people in over 60 countries. Partnering with governments, NGOs and social enterprises, they provide users with information, inspiration, and access to improve their health and wellbeing.
Over 1.3 million South African mothers are currently registered on a mobile platform designed to stop mothers and babies dying needlessly.
“Despite having one of the best economies on the continent, South Africa still sees a disproportionately high-level of maternal and infant mortality. It was a long way from meeting its international commitment to cut these deaths. To try and tackle this and to help educate women about self care, the National Department of Health (NDOH) in South Africa wanted to develop a mobile platform that would scale nationally and we were lucky enough to be chosen as technical partner for this platform,” said Debbie Rogers, Managing Director Praekelt.org.
The National Department of Health’s MomConnect offers every pregnant woman in the country the chance to receive free, informative, stage-based messaging from conception to the end of the first year of her baby’s life. It also gives them access to a SMS helpdesk and the chance to rate the services they receive.
Launched in 2014, it’s a truly national service. So far, its sent out over 54 million messages to millions of women, with 95% of clinics in the country signed up to the service.
Aside from the sheer scale of the programme, one of the most notable achievements is the high-level of women interacting with the service. Over 30% of subscribers have completed service ratings and more than half a million messages have been sent to the MomConnect helpdesk.
MomConnect is the only national scale maternal mobile programme of its kind. It brings together many partners and experts to create a sustainable and robust platform. And there is now a lot of interest from other partners and countries.
Following the success of this project the South African National Department of Health has announced the launch of NurseConnect. This programme supports MomConnect by providing clinical and psychosocial support to 17,000 nurses on the front-line.
At the moment, The NDOH and Praekelt.org are exploring how to reach mothers through different channels, such as WhatsApp. They have also been awarded a two-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore how mobile technologies can improve communication with patients.