A SMS app that vows to ease Africa’s infant mortality rates

With the current statistics showing Kenya’s maternal mortality ratio at 48.8 per 1000 live births, a new expectant mother monitoring system called an antenatal calls and SMS is set to ease the number of deaths during childbirth.

The app ensures the health workers, midwives and the pregnant mothers share health information and care tips over the SMS and prepaid calls.

The system, which offers prepaid mobile phone credit for checks and health information updates, allows expectant women to call or send SMS to health experts for free, for information on antenatal care and delivery services.

The expectant mothers are also called for follow up and care aside from being prompted on antenatal classes and advised on birth plans and childcare, including breastfeeding.

Developed following a partnership by the USAID, the Government’s Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, and Medical Services, the system has already been applied in eleven Kenyan counties.

Reproductive Health Advisor Aphia Plus Kamili Dr. Ruth Jahonga said the pilot project has ensured that pregnant women in the area are registered by the health providers who call or send “SMS” Short Message Services to find out about their conditions.

The system is a plus to both the mothers and the health experts as it will not only reduce the deaths but it will help them curb the causes of it, says Dr. jahonga.

The Kenya Service Provision Assessment Survey of 2010 found out that at least 56 percent of pregnant women deliver at home under the care of untrained midwives and most of them according to Dr. Jahonga, die due to pregnancy complications such as hemorrhage, obstructed labor, hypertensive disease, sepsis and ruptured uterus. Dr. Jahonga says the system has helped reduce the deaths.

She stated that since the start of the pilot project february last year, up to 50 women are attended to each month.

Dr. Jahonga told HumanIPO high poverty levels in the country make airtime expensive hence it is more sensible to receive airtime, send SMS and call the women for free to monitor their health in a bid reduce infant mortality rates in the counties.

The expectant mothers are unable to access antenatal care because of poverty leading to high infant mortality rates. CIA statistics indicate Kenya’s infant mortality rates at 52 deaths per 1000 live births.

“We want to ensure that the lives of both the mother and the child are safe guarded,”
Dr. Jahonga said.

The 5-year USAID funded project initiated under the APHIA PLUS KAMILI program, is a consortium of nine organizations led by JHPIEGO as the lead partner with CHAK, NOPE, PATH, LVCT, AMREF, Land O’ Lakes, ICAP.

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