mHealth for healthy babies
Angola has a high child mortality rate. Yet one small change could reduce this death rate significantly. Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life makes babies healthier and stronger, but only one in 10 Angolan babies under six months enjoys this benefit.
At the same time, Angola has a high mobile phone penetration: 74 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Mobile phone technology can help families raise healthy children by bringing critical information directly to the hands of mothers and caregivers.
Many mothers lack information about good child-rearing practices, but they have mobile phones that can deliver life-saving baby care tips. To turn this idea into a reality, SIPA joined forces with the non-governmental organisation, People in Need to start a neonatal mHealth program in March 2015.
Following an integrated approach, the project strengthens links among mothers, traditional birth attendants (TBA) and health staff.
TBAs improve their skills through training; this is crucial because they oversee more than half of births in Angola. They register mothers into the project and reinforce the messaging. In turn, mobile phone messages encourage mothers to engage with TBAs and to go to clinics for check-ups and consultations.
The project targets 60 000 mothers and 360 TBAs in six municipalities in the Bié, Huambo and Huila provinces. After a six-month pilot phase in two municipalities in Bié, the project will expand to Huambo and Huila.