In Kenya and Tanzania, prospective parents can now register for information and reminders on their mobile to help ensure a problem-free pregnancy.
Setting out to reduce the rate of infant and maternal mortality, Totohealth is a for-profit social business that offers its subscribers information and reminders on important medical check-ups. Mobile phones and simple SMS were chosen as the best form of communication, because it's a wide spread technology with easy access for maximum numbers of people.
Founded in 2014, the company works in Kenya and Tanzania, where more than 45,000 parents have registered for the service. In both countries, infant mortality is around 5 per cent for children up to five years old (the EU average is 0.4 per cent). In Kenya, an average of around 500 of every 100,000 prospective mothers die - in Tanzania it's 400.
Parents who want to use Totohealth are registered with hospitals or organisations who look after women during their pregnancy. They record the stage of the pregnancy and/or the age of the child, the preferred language and their place of residence. Every Monday and Thursday the parents receive health and nutritional tips or descriptions of the kind of developmental progress they can expect their children to be making. The messages are developed together with doctors and midwives and expressed using simple and concise language.
The content of the SMS depends on whether it's aimed at mothers, young mothers or fathers, and is adapted to those particular requirements. The health facilities can also send regular automatic reminders - for vaccinations, or check-ups, for example and send individually-tailored messages too. The price is around 200 Kenyan shillings, that's about two USD, each year.
Totohealth in action on CNBC Africa
This article is a translation by Marisa Pettit of the original article which first appeared on RESET's German-language site.