Healthy and happy expectant mothers and new babies is the aim of MomConnect, a mobile-based program that delivers health messages to new mothers and mothers-to-be.
Users can sign up for weekly texts about their pregnancy, with health related information and updates about what they should expect to be experiencing. They can also ask questions about anything they need to know about their baby or pregnancy and register the birth once the new baby has arrived.
Every year 1,500 mothers and over 34,000 infants die during childbirth in South Africa. That’s 93 babies and four mothers per day. With maternal and infant mortality still a major issue in South Africa, MomConnect is a solution developed by the Department of Health to tackle this by providing essential information and support that is crucial to a healthy pregnancy and birth.
For many new mothers, the service is a lifeline, providing them with information that can offer both knowledge and peace of mind throughout their pregnancy.
Nolubabalo Fudumele used MomConnect when she was expecting her son and found it reassuring to know what was happening throughout each stage of her pregnancy, “I was more aware of the changes, because the messages explained to me why I felt certain things. You are always worried when you are pregnant.”
The service continues to grow, embracing new and developing technology to connect more users. MomConnect now uses Facebook’s Messenger to chat with users, making the service more accessible to the 75% of South African’s that use Facebook on their mobile phone. Not only does this help to reach more people, but makes the service more affordable and allows MomConnect to send longer, more detailed, messages.
It’s not just new moms who are seeing the benefits. Antenatal health workers like Alida Mallum, a nurse at Mitchell’s Plain MOU in Cape Town, find it helpful for reminding moms about the information provided in prenatal visit. “We tell them plenty of things during our talks, but pregnant women are often tired,” she says. “They are not always absorbing everything we tell them. These messages are reinforcing the information we already gave them.”
MomConnect is already a proven success, with more than 1 million people subscribing to the service. As they reach more and more expectant mothers, MomConnect continues to provide information that is saving lives across South Africa.