On 21 August 2014, the national Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi
, officially launched the MomConnect Project
at the KT Motubatse Clinic in Shoshanguve, Tshwane.
MomConnect is a free service that builds on the success of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)
and aims to use mobile health tools, messaging services and other platforms to create awareness among pregnant women about available health services for their infants.
The project is aimed at all South African mothers who are typically:
- All pregnant women.
- Only engaging with the healthcare system from the 21st week of pregnancy.
- Able to read and write.
- Accessing a shared or their own own cellphone.
MomConnect has three main objectives:
- To register each pregnancy at a government health facility.
- To send stage-based, personalised SMSes to each mom in the registry.
- To allow women to engage with the health system through help desk tools and services.
How To Register:
- Ask someone at a public health care facility to confirm that you are pregnant.
- Dial *134*550# from your cellphone to register.
- Answer a few simple questions about your pregnancy.
- You will then be registered – welcome to the family!
- Pregnancy is registered in the national database
User receives weekly SMS messages to inform them of their pregnancy and baby health (up to when the child is one year old)
Registered pregnant women will receive an SMS appropriate to their stage of pregnancy. MomConnect will also encourage expecting mothers to start ante-natal care, test for conditions such as hypertension, HIV/Aids and diabetes very early in their pregnancy. It will also emphasise preventing mother to child transmission at 14 weeks.
However, even after the babies are born, new mothers will continue to get SMS messages for up to a year. “Only at this time, will the SMS messages include advice on the baby – like exclusive breastfeeding, immunisation, family planning for the mother, oral rehydration during diarrhoea, check-up periods at the clinic etc”, explained Minister Motsoaledi.
He said MomConnect is helping to achieve South Africa’s Millennium Development Goals
, which aim to "reduce maternal and child mortality through strengthening primary healthcare". It will also ensure that "pregnant women are not just passive recipients of healthcare, but active participants in claiming healthcare from public health facilities.
"The women will also be able to send us SMSes at no cost to themselves (as a Please Call Me), to inform us of their concerns and experiences in our healthcare facilities", he said.
Examples of messages sent to expectant and new moms will include:
- Information about pregnancy and infancy, based on the mother’s stage of pregnancy or her infant’s age.
- Clinical messages based on care the mother and/or baby are scheduled to receive at different stages of pregnancy or post-delivery.
- Follow-up SMSes of imminent or missed appointments.
Note: Once the baby is born, new moms can reply “baby” to any SMS sent from MomConnect for information on how to care for their babies until the age of one year.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, attended a media briefing and live demonstration of MomConnect at Groote Schuur Hospital in the weeks leading up to the launch.
Please enquire about this service at your ante-natal facility. Through this project the Western Cape Government Health wishes to ensure better health of mothers and babies: Better Together.
How to opt-out of MomConnect:
Simply dial *134*550*1# from the cellphone you used to register and tell us why you don’t want to receive the messages anymore so we can support you further and improve our service.