In August 2014, South Africa’s National Department of Health, with support from Johnson & Johnson, ELMA Philanthropies, and the United States government, launched MomConnect - a mobile health initiative to help more women gain access to vital information and care needed to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and labor.
In its first two years, MomConnect has grown into the largest program of its kind ever implemented by a country government nationwide. South Africa is already expanding MomConnect to reach nurses and midwives with educational and motivational information, and to provide additional targeted support to mothers living with HIV.
MomConnect empowers new and expectant mothers to seek the care they need by leveraging the widespread use of mobile phones in South Africa. It includes three key components:
- A stage-based weekly text messaging service
- A national pregnancy registry
- A help desk for mothers to ask questions and provide feedback
- A link between the feedback and the health services, to improve quality of care.
Since August 2014, over 933,666 women have received MomConnect messages; over 738,777 confirmed pregnancies have been registered with the national database to date; and 34,887 health workers have been trained on MomConnect.
MomConnect messages are designed to build an emotional connection with mothers, encouraging and empowering them to take an active role in their healthcare, while providing advice on the importance of attending antenatal visits, how to prepare for a healthy and safe labor, and the best ways to take care of their newborn. These important and educational messages don’t stop with the birth of the baby-MomConnect continues to offer support and guidance to new mothers throughout the first year of infancy.
In 2011, Johnson & Johnson was a founding member of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), a public-private partnership between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Johnson & Johnson, the mHealth Alliance, the United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter that brought information to expectant mothers on their mobile phones who otherwise had limited access to prenatal care.
The MAMA program in South Africa generated content, technology and partnerships that served as important building blocks when the South African Department of Health opted to launch MomConnect three years later.
Johnson & Johnson is committed to pioneering new, creative approaches to adapt technology and combat the challenges of maternal, newborn and child health. The MomConnect initiative exemplifies that public-private partnerships alongside strong government participation can have profound, positive effects on the lives of pregnant women and their children.