Quite a number of risks are associated with childbirth, these risks can spring up during and after childbirth, either to the new mother or child. In the same vein, infant and maternal mortality are one of the leading problems in Africa and it is apparent that the increase in mortality rates in past years is due to the lack of access to quality delivery services, especially in rural communities in Africa.
In Cameroon, the maternal mortality rate stands at 596 per 100,000 live births and the infant mortality rate is at 60 per 1000 live births.
When Alain Nteff visited a clinic in rural Cameroon, he learned that 17 premature babies had lost their lives due to complications from illnesses like syphilis, chlamydia, and malaria. He realized that the deaths were preventable, and the grieving mothers would still have their children had they received proper antenatal care and information during their pregnancies.
This was what inspired the ideas for GiftedMom, which was founded in 2013 with an aim to bridge the gap between health assistance and low-income African women and create a world free of maternal and infant mortality using last-mile technologies.
GiftedMom offers a comprehensive list of services to women and families, this includes sending free SMS to subscribers’ mobile phones to remind them about the importance of prenatal care and breast feeding.
For users who cannot read or write, SMS messages are sent via a voice application and translated into the local language. There are also chatbots that provide useful health services to users through GiftedMom’s online channels when there is no need for a doctor.
The platform tracks vaccinations for children and also makes immunization schedules available to their guardians. It also runs mobile campaigns to inform the public, including teenagers, about family planning, contraceptive techniques and other reproductive health issues, and field questions from the community.
The GiftedMom team are counting on help from young people, especially those who were training to be doctors at private health science institutes that were shut down by Cameroon’s government in 2013. Of the 200 young persons in the GiftedMom network that have medical skills, eight have been hired full-time by GiftedMom; the others receive support to launch their own community development initiatives while serving their communities as volunteers.
In Nteff’s words, “our service brings health to the fingertips of African women using popular and affordable mobile phone technology. Since the beginning of our trial in 2014, we now check in around 110,000 pregnant women and mothers in rural and urban Cameroon. The health advice we provide has increased antenatal turnout to 80 percent and vaccination turnout to 90 percent in some medical centers we work with.”
Nteff hopes to expand this network to 30,000 youths in 10 countries as time goes by.