Technology used to save lives in West Africa

by Thabile Manala 0

A mobile health platform has been launched with the mission of improving health conditions for pregnant women and fighting child mortality in Africa.

Alain Nteff, who co-founded Gifted Mom, defined this project as a social enterprise that is developing innovative technologies that are aimed at creating a world free of maternal infant mortality.

Nteff said the idea struck him in 2012, and was birthed with the help of his co-founder who is a medical doctor.  After witnessing the loss of 17 premature babies in Cameroon from causes that were preventable, Nteff inquired about how this was happening in the wake of technology.

He was told that the main problem was that there exists medical resources but there are no channels to actually inform rural mothers of these resources.

Nteff realised that the rate of medical penetration in Cameroon is huge and has increased from nine per cent in 2004 to over 80 per cent in 2014. At the launch of Gifted Moms, the penetration was about 71 per cent.

“It was like an Aha moment because we noticed that with a simple feature phone or even a smartphone we could send life-saving information to the hands of these people, “ he said.

As a computer scientist by qualification, Nteff went on to start a small automated application that sent stage-based information to pregnant women. “We also partnered with a United Nations organisation and they gave us stage-based content to send to women.”

Gifted Mom has 500 application downloads with integration on locally made phones. The organisation now customises content from eight medical doctors in the relevant contexts.

It is planning to reach 50 000 pregnant women by the end of 2015, with a current reach of 2008. Nteff said its approach is to partner with NGOs already in maternal infant health but lacking this technological component to skill and measure their impact.

Nteff, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, has also launched M-health Technologies which is set to impact five million lives across Africa. This initiative has been endorsed by Queen Elizabeth.

“Getting endorsed by the queen, was amazing because our technologies now manage up to five million pregnant women.”

Voice technologies have also been developed for those who are illiterate.