Two young entrepreneurs in Cameroon have developed an mHealth platform, called GiftedMom, that is helping new mothers and pregnant women in rural African communities access medical advice.
The idea for the platform began in 2012 after engineering student, Alain Nteff, visited his friend, Dr Conrad Tankou, at a hospital in rural Cameroon where he was doing his medical practice. After witnessing several mothers and newborns succumb to treatable conditions, the two decided to use their skills to address the issue of maternal and infant mortality.
According to the World Bank, Cameroon has over 595 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is one of the highest ratios in both Africa and the rest of the world. And according to the WHO, about 64% of new mothers in the Central African country don’t receive any medical check-ups after delivering a baby, which is mostly attributed to women living in remote regions with no access to healthcare facilities.
“I’m passionate about using technology to solve problems in my community, and I just saw it as an opportunity to apply my engineering to solve one of the world’s biggest and oldest problems,” said Nteff during an interview with CNN.
“We realised that there was a need to create a low-cost channel to educate women on when they should go for antenatal care and when they should take their babies for vaccination,” continued Nteff.
Similar to South Africa’s MomConnect, GiftedMom consists of an SMS service that expectant and new mothers can register for to receive advice about their health, like the importance of regular check-ups, and to strengthen linkage to antenatal care.
Since the company’s launch they have expanded their services to include the GiftedMom Application, which contains basic and simplified information concerning pregnancy, breast feeding and vaccinations for children.
GiftedMom also offers programmes to track children’s vaccinations; teen health and sex education; family planning and contraception; and outreach education campaigns. Their mHealth platform also mobilises community health workers to fight against maternal and infant mortality through mobile data collection and real-time analysis.
GiftedMom has partnered with NGOs in maternal health, Pharmaceuticals and Telcos to get health information to the hands of pregnant women and new mothers. Their partners include The Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Health (PMNCH); Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA); The MasterCard Foundation; Women Deliver; and ALN Ventures.
So far 6,7000 pregnant women and newborns have been registered on the system in Cameroon and Nigeria. Future plans involve launching the mHealth platform in other developing countries to help combat maternal mortality.
“Our mission is really to create a world of mothers who are gifted. A world that is free of maternal and infant death – a world of gifted moms,” concluded Nteff.