Increasing health advice

Increasing access to health advice for mums, dads and carers

According to UNICEF South Africa, 4,300 mothers die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year, 20,000 babies are stillborn and another 23,000 die in their first month of life. Research shows that good access to reliable health information plays a crucial role in reducing maternal and infancy illness and mortality. In addition, many people in South Africa face long queues to receive health advice for themselves and their families and often have to travel long distances to reach a clinic, especially in rural areas.

To help address this problem, Vodacom developed Mum & Baby. This free-to-use (no data charges) mobile health (‘mHealth’) intervention gives customers maternal, neonatal and child health information. The information is shared through weekly stage-based SMS messages. Additional health-related content, such as articles, videos and tutorials, is available through a mobile-optimised website. Mum & Baby is available in English, Zulu, Sesotho, Xhosa and Afrikaans. The service has helped over 1.5 million parents and caregivers to take positive actions to improve their children’s health since its launch in 2017.

This year we commissioned KPMG to conduct an independent study to assess the socio-economic contribution of Vodacom’s Mum & Baby service. The study found:

  • 98% of the mothers and pregnant women surveyed said they had taken action to improve their child’s health because of access to the information provided by the service;
  • 95% of the mothers and pregnant women surveyed said that the information received influenced their decision to breastfeed, and across the focus groups a small number of participants indicated that the information received had resulted in them breastfeeding for longer than six months;
  • 97% of mothers and pregnant women surveyed said the service influenced their decision to visit a health centre for check-ups; and
  • 96% agreed that the information received helped with their decision to vaccinate their child. If this were representative of all Mum & Baby subscribers, it would suggest that the service might have influenced the vaccination decisions for the children of approximately 650,000 individuals in South Africa.

The findings of the study will be used to shape future plans for the service and how its social impact can be enhanced. Read the report online.