Smart phones champion maternal healthcare in Africa - CNBC Africa

Smart phones champion maternal healthcare in Africa


by Trust Matsilele 0

GiftedMom is using mobile phones to champion maternal healthcare in Africa. PHOTOS: idrc

Alain Nteff, founder of GiftedMom helped established the first mobile health platform in Central Africa, which uses low cost technologies to improve the health conditions of pregnant women and newborns in underserved and disconnected communities.

(READ MORE: Philips joins UN in saving women & children)

The GiftedMom project was started by a group of medical and engineering students, with the vision to reduce maternal mortality rates (Millennium Development Goal 5) as well as infant Mortality rates (MDG 4) in Cameroon.

The project comprises of a web and mobile platform, SMS services and Google fusion tables, all aimed at divulging important information on the proper management of pregnancy, and a healthy follow up of newborns.

“We have developed channels that help pregnant woman and mothers on how to have safe pregnancy,” Nteff told CNBC Africa.

“We have developed a free sms application that notifies pregnant women on when to do their next antenatal care and also alerts mothers with newborn babies for the next vaccine.”

Nteff added that the sms application has gone viral because in Cameroon and other parts of Africa, as the rate of mobile penetration is over 80 per cent, this makes it possible to reach women in rural and disconnected areas.

“We send weekly messages to guide pregnant women on the necessary vaccines in order to have a safe pregnancy,” said Nteff.

The organisation plays the role of educating women as most of them do not have access and affordability of the necessary vaccines.

“Currently we have impacted the lives of over 1,200 pregnant women and we are targeting at least 50,000 by the end of this year pregnant women,” he said.

“The idea started after I visited a friend in rural Cameroon, a medical doctor, who in a week of my visit saw about 17 pre-mature babies which could have been prevented by antenatal care.”

According to GiftedMom, over 4,000 babies die per year in Cameroon from vaccine-preventable diseases.

GiftedMom track the vaccination programme of children less than five years old, reminding their guardians through SMS on when and where to take their children for the next vaccine.

“Sadly, over 7,000 women still die per year in Cameroon from pregnancy related complications which can be prevented by a simple educative SMS. We notify subscribed women by SMS on when they should do their ANCs and tell them why. Subscription to our SMS solution is free and be done on the homepage,” claims the organisation.

The organisation says, antenatal care (ANC) is key in reducing maternal and newborn deaths. In Cameroon, 20 per cent of pregnant women never do an ANC visit and only 35 per cent do an ANC visit during the critical first trimester. The organisation sensitises pregnant women in low income areas on why they should do their ANC and provides follow up.

“Many families are uncomfortable discussing sexual health education with their children. We propagate a mobile sensitisation campaign among teens with content customised for the younger generation,” reads part of the statement on the organisation’s website.

“Our goal is to use low cost technologies to fight ignorance maternal and newborn health issues. We organise monthly outreach sensitisation campaigns, one village at a time.”

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GiftedMom joins one of the leading technology companies, Philips in bridging health challenges in the region. Royal Philips introduced a tabled-sized clinical innovation system to address maternal health, one of Africa’s biggest challenges.

Peter van de Ven, vice president and general manager at Philips Healthcare Africa, said improving access to health was on Philips’ high agenda.

“Improving access to healthcare is high on the Philips agenda in Africa and we are very eager to contribute to the Vision 2030 goals of the Kenyan government to improve access to quality care for all Kenyans.”