Vodafone Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have agreed to jointly invest in order to expand the m-mama maternal health emergency programme.
M-mama was conceived by Vodafone Foundation in response to a request from USAID for a programme to help reduce rural maternal deaths. The Touch Foundation and Pathfinder International were selected as implementation partners to help develop and deliver the m-mama service.
The emergency service provides a charge free number and 24/7 call centre to connect women who experience complications in pregnancy, labour, or with a newborn. The call centre sends either an ambulance or an ‘ambulance taxi’ with a driver trained to handle the transportation of obstetric emergencies and given the equipment they need to get patients safely to hospital. The ambulance taxi driver is identified through the m-mama mobile app then paid electronically using M-Pesa once safely at the hospital, at no cost to the women being transported.
At USAID’s Democracy Delivers event on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly, Vodafone Foundation, and the Government of Tanzania committed to expand m-mama across the whole of Tanzania, in direct response to a request from Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
USAID and the Vodafone Foundation committed US$15 million (€15 million) for the Tanzania expansion (Vodafone Foundation US$10 million and US$5 million from USAID). The government of Tanzania, represented at the event by Vice President Philip Mpango, committed to covering all transport costs and providing all dispatch staff from day one.
These efforts will extend the programme’s coverage from the two districts of Sengerema/Buchosa and Shinyanga, home to about 1 million people, to Tanzania’s entire population of 60 million.
Vodafone Foundation also committed an additional US$5 million to replicate this model in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa with high rates of maternal mortality, bringing its total commitment to $15 million. Vodafone Foundation launched m-mama services in Lesotho in 2020. USAID will explore additional partnership opportunities with Vodafone Foundation to reproduce Tanzania’s successes elsewhere.
Vodafone Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer and Trustee of Vodafone Foundation, Joakim Reiter said:
“M-mama has transported over 15,000 women and newborns in Tanzania and Lesotho. It is conservatively estimated to have saved 300 lives and has been effective in reducing maternal mortality by some 30%. National scale in Tanzania could save around 17,000 lives in the first 5 years. M-mama services will be available across all of Lesotho by March next year and we are actively looking to extend the programme to new territories, in continued partnership with USAID.”
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