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Health dept serious about healthy pregnancies

Written by Amukelani Chauke

Budget votes

MomConnect, launched by the Department of Health, is yielding positive results.

In August last year, the department launched the  innovative project that uses cellphone technology to register pregnant women in the public and private sectors and empowers them to get all the information and instructions necessary for them to ensure a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy vibrant baby.

After delivering her baby the messages a mother receives will focus on the health needs of a new-born and will continue for up to one year after birth.

At the time of the launch, the Minister reported that the department and its development partners trained 10 300 health workers nationally to assist pregnant women to register.

The Minister said after eight months, the department has registered 383 354 pregnant women on the system. “It is regarded as the largest number in the world.

“Before we started, Bangladesh was regarded as a world leader after registering 100 000 women in 18 months, while other countries have only small pilot projects – nothing on a massive scale like we have,” he said.

He said the system does not only dish out information and instructions, but also enables pregnant women to ask questions and send unsolicited complaints and compliments about the department’s services.

“Unsolicited means that the woman sends in a complaint or a compliment without being asked, requested, provoked or prompted as is often done by researchers.

“This means we get to know about our services from the horse’s mouth unprovoked,” he said.

The aim was to ensure that 1.2 million are registered on MomConnect annually, said the Minister.

The project is funded over a two year period by partners that include the US Government with R49 million and Johnson & Johnson with R5 million.
Four cellphone operators including Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom are offering a 50 per cent discount on the SMS made that would be sent to pregnant mothers. 

Major achievements
  • 70 per cent - the decline in invasive pneumocococcal disease in children under the age of five. This after the health department introduced two new vaccines in 2009. Pneumococcal diseases include very dangerous diseases like meningitis and severe pneumonia.
  • 66 per cent - the reduction in rotavirus diarrhoea hospitalisation in the first two years after the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine.
  • 1 553 - the number of compliments from happy moms in eight months, registered on MomConnect. These included messages in which mothers expressed gratitude over good service by individual nurses who had performed above the call of duty. 
Number to dial from mobile phone Who dials it? Free
to access?
*134*550# Pregnant Woman, on her own phone Yes
*134*550*1# Pregnant Woman, on her own phone if
she wants to opt out
Yes
*134*550*2# Nurse/ Clinic Representative on any
phone (e.g nurse’s own phone;
facility phone; mom’s phone)
Yes
*134*550*3# CHW on any phone (e.g CHW’s
phone; mom’s phone)
Yes
*134*550*4# Pregnant woman, on her phone Yes
*120*550*0# Anyone during training on any
phone
No costs
20c/20sec

 

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