GiftedMom: How A Simple SMS Could Save Your Life In Cameroon

The African continent has a new app dedicated to improving the health of mothers and pregnant women: GiftedMom is an initiative making good use of the popularity of mobile technology in Africa to spread information and awareness and tackle the ongoing issue of maternal and infant mortality.

Author Hanadi Siering:

Translation Marisa Pettit, 12.28.16

The social initiative GiftedMom uses SMS, voice messages and GPS to reach as many women as possible via their mobile phones, and provide them with – sometimes individualised information – about their pregnancy and post-birth health. According to statistics from GiftedMom’s website, today over 7000 women die in Cameroon each year from pregnancy-related complications, and 4000 babies die from vaccine-preventable diseases. All of these deaths could be prevented with a simple educative SMS, reminding them to have a health check, or where and when they can have their children vaccinated – and most importantly, letting them know why. The aim of the initiative is to tackle the tragic incidences of maternal mortality through a combination of modern mobile technology and sensitively and clearly expressed informational messages.

The app is aimed primarily at women in African countries, where the use of mobile phones is widespread. As well as reminding mothers about upcoming vaccinations and informing them about different health matters, pregnant women are also registered with local health providers who provide them with regular up-to-date information. Women who can’t read are able to receive voice messages instead. Over 50,000 messages have been sent so far – mostly in Cameroon and Nigeria.

GPS-Routed Tricycles Instead of Ambulances

The service is interactive too – users are able to send questions and have them answered by a medical professional. And if there’s an emergency, women can make a call over the app and a local tricycle – a sort of rickshaw, which locates the caller using GPS – will come and take the patient to the nearest doctor’s surgery or health centre. The GPS technology doesn’t even require internet to function, meaning it’s especially practical in rural areas. 

In October of this year, GiftedMom won a Siemens empowering people award, an international prize given to projects that use appropriate, low-tech technologies to actively and sustainably improve quality of life in specific crucial areas.

The GiftedMom mobile app has currently been downloaded more than 1000 times and its developers are aiming to reach up to five million users by the year 2018. Check out the beautifully made video below to see the two young men responsible for developing the concept, and the passion with which they talk about its future. 

This article is translated from the original written by Hanadi, which appeared on our German-language site. 

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