Praekelt, SA Department of Health officially launch MomConnect service

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The Praekelt Foundation, alongside Jembi Health Systems and the South African Department of Health has today launched a pioneering initiative providing mothers with pre- and postnatal care.

Using the ubiquity of the mobile phone and the transformative potential of technology, MomConnect will help guide and streamline arguably the most stressful period in a woman’s life — pregnancy.

The service will use Jembi’s health information systems and run on Praekelt’s open-source cloud platform, Vumi — previously used to bring Wikipedia to Kenya back in 2013. It will allow for a flexible framework, where users can sign up with any phone, without internet access and switch numbers or unsubscribe from the service if so desired. The connected mother will receive timely updates in the form of SMS messaging regarding check-ups and other vital information during the nine months of pregnancy and beyond.

Alongside the “pregnancy registry” and “stage-based messaging”, MomConnect will also offer a helpdesk through which concerned users can submit queries and worries.

Due to the simple nature of Vumi’s platform, the project will be available on all SA mobile operators, launching initially in six official languages, (with the additional five coming soon).

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Initially piloted in KwaZulu-Natal, the MomConnect service is now available nationwide, to mothers across the country.

“Only two women out of a hundred will give birth to HIV positive babies,” noted Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo of the KZN Department of Health’s Executive Council during the pilot. “Four years ago it was twenty women. Now, that is a significant improvement in our womens’ and maternal health.”

More information about the project is available on Praekelt’s and Jembi’s websites.

Andy Walker
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