A new cellphone based application, MomConnect, is expected to register all pregnant women in the country for a “sms” service which provides information and advice on pregnancy, as well as a channel to notify the department about poor service.
Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, launched MomConnect, on Thursday, at Soshanguve Multipurpose Community Centre.
Minister Motsoaledi said the messages will advise them on what to do at any stage of their pregnancy and also encourage women to start ante-natal care at an early stage.
“We will say mom, since you registered with us you are now 13-weeks pregnant. This is what you must do, this is where you must go and this is what you must avoid. Even after the birth of the baby, we will continue to send the messages for the period of one year. The messages will include advice on the baby, this is what you must do, this is what the baby must get (vaccines),” explained Minister Motsoaledi.
He said pregnant mothers will also be able to send messages to the Department of Health and complain or compliment the services received at healthcare facilities.
“In a particular period, we will be able to know from here in Pretoria that in the past six months that most of the messages that are bad were coming from a particular clinic. …We will know something is happening at that clinic because many pregnant women are complaining.”
Health workers trained on MomConnect
In preparation for the launch of MomConnect, the department through the help of development partners trained 10 300 health workers nationally to assist pregnant women to register.
“In the coming weeks, every health facility in the country will have at least one person who is trained and whose job will be to assist and register pregnant women,” the Minister said.
The project will be funded for the next two years by partners including the US Government with R49 million and Johnson & Johnson with R5 million. The country will only start funding the project from its fiscus after the next two years.
Four cellphone operators including Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom are offering a 50% discount on the SMS made that would be sent to pregnant mothers.
Pregnant mothers welcome the initiative
Pregnant mothers and health workers at the Motubatse Clinic have welcomed the initiative, saying it will save their lives and their babies.
Pregnant mother Patricia Mokese, who is already registered, said the project will help them with regards to their check-up dates since this can be confusing.
“We have lot on our mind at home and work, and sometimes we forget to go to the clinics on time. The project will help us especially when something you don’t understand happens to you during the pregnancy. We can send a message for assistance,” said Mokese, who is expecting her second child.
Sister Innocentia Hlongwane, who works at the mother and child ward in the clinic, said MomConnect will help expecting mothers to book their appointments early and provide them with information ahead of time.
“We can get early bookings for antenatal care. It will also reduce the risk of the maternal rate and help us as health workers because they will already know the warning signs if there is an emergency,” she said.
Motubatse Clinic, which started registering the mothers from 11 August, have made 65 new bookings.