Mobile Health Around the Globe: Bangladesh Maternal Mobile Health Service Aims to Reach 2 Million Moms
Everyday there are 1,000 women around the world who do not survive childbirth or pregnancy. Over three million newborn deaths occur every year. Most of these instances are not only preventable, but also happen in developing countries.
On Mother’s Day 2011 Hilary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, launched a public-private partnership between United States Agency for International Development, Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter to create MAMA: Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action. The mobile health service was designed to address the severe maternal and child mortality rates in Bangladesh, India and South Africa.
In December 2012 MAMA announced the launch of the Bangladesh service brand Aponjon, which means ‘the trusted one’ in Bengali. Aponjon (whose logo is pictured on the left) is a mobile health service designed to deliver critical stage-based information via cell phone to pregnant women and new mothers. The messages are aimed at reducing maternal and newborn illnesses and deaths. The service is free for the poorest 20 percent of its subscribers.
In order to reach the lowest levels of literacy the mHealth service brand created culturally sensitive voice messages, which are sent to the subscribers as entertaining mini-dramas during pregnancy and through the infant’s first year of life.
At the heart of MAMA Bangladesh lies D.Net, a social enterprise that has trained more than 750 community health workers to help spread awareness and engage users to help improve the health of Bangladeshi pregnant women, new mothers and their families. Leading up to the launch of Aponjon D.Net health workers had helped enlist over 12,000 registered users. Aponjon’s goal is to reach 2 million Bangladeshi mothers and their families by 2015.
There are currently 98 million mobile phone users in Bangledesh, a large portion of those users are female. According to this report one Bangledeshi woman dies every 45 minutes from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Beyond this staggering statistic is this: a child less than one month old dies every four minutes in Bangledesh because their mother didn't have access to proper pre or post-natal care.
Aponjon has an opportunity to make a significant impact in the well being of pregnant women, new mothers and young infants over the next 3 years. Using mHealth education maternal and infant care awareness can become widespread which means lives can be saved and extended.
Click here to view the MAMA infographic.
For a 3 minute documentary on MAMA, please view the following video:
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Jayme Hummer was previously the Manager of Special Projects and Research at Enspektos, a health marketing consultancy. Her experience includes media consulting, publicity and grant writing for organiztions such as the National Patient Safety Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, and the Telluride Medical Center. Jayme lives in Denver, Colorado.