Maternal health in South Africa
South Africa has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in a country that is not actually at war! Up to 40% of maternal deaths in South Africa are HIV/AIDS-related. More South Africans use a mobile phone than watch television or listen to the radio, and there are more SIM cards in South Africa than people.
We developed content for a free SMS program offered through six inner-city clinics in Johannesburg. We wrote general messages for all pregnant women, and then included an ‘opt-in’ stream of messages on living with HIV.
Early results show:
- An increase in antenatal care
- An increase in vaginal births
- A reduction in low birth weight babies
- Increased early infant diagnosis of HIV
In August 2014, the South African National Department of Health adopted these messages and launched a national mobile health service for mothers called MomConnect.
Our Director Daphne Metland worked directly with the SA National Department of Health to combine the existing messages with new ones required by the department. These messages reach 700,000 mothers each year.
In their words
Mothers have told us:
‘Everyone should get these messages. They tell you how to take good care of your baby’
‘These messages make me feel someone cares for me’