South Africa Launches App For Expectant Mothers
A new cellphone-based application, MomConnect, is expected to register all pregnant women in South Africa for an SMS service which provides information and advice on pregnancy, as well as a channel to notify the department about poor service.
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who launched MomConnect at the Soshanguve Multipurpose Community Centre, about 25 kilometres north of here, on Thursday, said the messages would advise them on what to do at any stage of their pregnancy and also encourage women to start ante-natal care at an early stage.
“We will say ‘Mom, since you registered with us you are now 13-weeks pregnant. This is what you must do, this is where you must go and this is what you must avoid’,” the minister explained.
“Even after the birth of the baby, we will continue to send the messages for the period of one year. The messages will include advice on the baby; ‘This is what you must do, this is what the baby must get (vaccines)’.”
Motsoaledi said pregnant mothers would also be able to send messages to the Department of Health and complain or compliment the services received at healthcare facilities.
“In a particular period, we will be able to know from here in Pretoria that in the past six months that most of the messages that are bad were coming from a particular clinic.
“We will know something is happening at that clinic because many pregnant women are complaining.”
In preparation for the launch of MomConnect, the department, with the help of development partners, trained 10,300 health workers nationally to assist pregnant women to register for the service.
“In the coming weeks, every health facility in the country will have at least one person who is trained and whose job will be to assist and register pregnant women,” the minister said.
The project will be funded for the next two years by various partners, including the United States government with 49 million Rand (about RM14.64 million) and Johnson & Johnson with R5 million.
The country will only start funding the project from its fiscus after the next two years.
Four cellphone operators — Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom — are offering a 50% discount on the SMS that would be sent to pregnant mothers.