Reducing Infant Mortality through Mobile Messaging Services
By Michele Baker-Cuthbert, Guest Columnist
Communication technology has really gone a long way to improve our lives in America. We have the power to connect with someone in less than a second. For people in other countries, they are not so fortunate.
In poorer countries, it is next to impossible to get the information they need because a simple staple like the Internet or mobile connectivity is not available. Just think, a soon to be mother would need information on what to do if she delivered her child early.
This is where MAMA, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action has made a difference to over 20 million new and expectant mothers. The MAMA free mobile phone messaging service is found in over 35 countries.
The public-private partnership includes Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations Foundation, Baby Center and mHealth Alliance. Their goal was to address 287,000 maternal deaths and over 3 million newborn deaths that occur each year.
Award Winning Service
MAMA has provided technology to these mothers to educate them on motherhood and reduce their isolation. Out of 1700 entries, MAMA was a recent ‘Service Design’ winner in Fast Company’s 2012 Innovation by Design Awards.
“With MAMA, cell phones sub for nurses. An expectant mom registers her due date and then gets timely text messages with tips on, say, swaddling or breast feeding. MAMA has already rolled out in three countries. ‘Putting this information into people’s hands is a powerful idea that could affect millions,’ says service design judge and Path co-founder and CEO Dave Morin.”
MAMA sends free mobile and audio messages that inform and educate mothers to be. The messages can be translated into different languages. These mothers get updated information, health tips and warning signs that can prevent the fatality of mothers or their newborns.
The women are followed through their pregnancy up to the baby’s first year. Content includes immunization schedules, nutrition, and health guides. It also connects women with local health services.
Millions of Lives Saved
While maternal death rates have been declining since before 1990, a large percentage of deaths among expectant mothers and children occur every year. With over one billion mobile phones in low- and middle income countries, technology has spread knowledge and opportunity, improving quality of life for millions of moms and babies.
India, South Africa and Bangladesh are countries with high levels of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity numbers. MAMA partners with local governments, mobile operators and organizations in efforts to make sure the most mothers can be reached by their services.
According to MAMA, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1,000 women die because of preventable causes that were related to childbirth or pregnancy. This happens everyday and mostly in the poorest countries.
Imagine what technology can do if more organizations like MAMA stepped in to advance healthcare and address other socioeconomic challenges in developing nations.
Mobile phones could help find lost children in different countries like the Amber Alert in the U.S., help educate children by giving teachers advice on teaching topics, and could even help students in other countries to connect with students around the world. MAMA is just one example of innovative programs that are helping to develop other countries for the better.
Michele is CEO of Baker Creative. She has 20+ years of experience working with leading brands including The Gap, Columbus College of Art and Design, Pet People, Colliers International and Proven Winners just to name a few. She and her team have created award-winning published work for a diverse group of clients all with unique communications challenges.
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