The MAMA Initiative

On 9 May 2013 Candice Pillay attended the MAMA launch at the Wits Reproductive Health Institute. This was the second country launch for the MAMA initiative that launched in Bangladesh last year and will launch in India later this year.

MAMA is an acronym for Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action and aims to provide pregnant mothers with information pertaining to their pregnancy and nutrition through an SMS application. The initiative was launched to improve female mortality of pregnant women.

South African statistics show that currently 53 out of every 1 000 children born, die at birth. The goal is to reduce this number to 18. Further 625 out of every 1 000 expectant mothers die during birth. The goal is to reduce this number to 58. Through the MAMA project it is hoped that with more information on pregnancy, birth and nutrition, mothers will take better care of themselves and their babies.

The project aims to impact the market via two initiatives:

  • Askmama.mobiis a cellphone application that allows users to access the website via a cellphone and read articles, ask questions and browse the site for information. This website is available to everyone and the information there is generic and advice that is given in answer to questions are also generic. There is always a referral for the user to consult their local clinic or health professional for a diagnosis.
  • A subscription service that allows users to register either at the local antenatal clinic or via social network sites like Mixit and Facebook. Registration will require the user to fill out a health questionnaire relating to their pregnancy. The user, once registered, will receive two SMSs a week advising them of the growth and development of their foetus and/or pregnancy and/or baby, and health care and nutrition tips. This is purely an information service and does not purport to give advice pertaining to the user's specific condition.

MAMA is a worldwide initiative of Hilary Clinton, the previous US Secretary of State, together with USAID and local partners:

  • Wits Reproductive Health Institute
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • mHealth Alliance
  • UN Foundation and Baby Centre
  • Vodacom
  • MTN
  • Praekelt Foundation
  • Cell-Life

Vodacom and MTN will launch the service for free to their subscribers. Routledge Modise is also a proud partner of the MAMA project and we will be providing them with pro bono legal services.

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