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Connecting pregnant women to emergency care in rural regions of Africa.

Every pregnant woman has a right to quality care

Thousands of pregnant women in rural areas of Africa are unable to travel to hospital in a pregnancy-related emergency. Our m-mama programme uses mobile technology to connect women to emergency transport.

Since 2013, Vodafone Foundation have worked in partnership with Touch Foundation to connect mothers to healthcare in rural Tanzania, where almost half of all women giving birth at home do so without the care of a skilled health worker. Mothers and new-borns die from treatable birth complications due in part to weak health systems and delays in accessing care.

Through m-mama, we are using mobile technology to connect pregnant women to care when they need it the most, and working to reduce rates of maternal mortality, identified as the number one health challenge by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

In September 2020, we announced a new partnership with the Lesotho Ministry of Health to expand the programme and to help tackle the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world.

At the core of m-mama is a cost-effective emergency transport system to significantly reduce maternal mortality in areas with limited or inefficient ambulance services.

The programme has seen a 27% reduction in maternal mortality in the Lake Zone regions of Tanzania where it has been operational to date.

How it works

Our m-mama programme aims to address complications as quickly and effectively as possible, recognising that many fatal pregnancy complications are difficult to predict.

The system uses a network of local taxi drivers to act as ‘taxi ambulances’ in areas where ambulances are rarely available:

  • When the patient makes a free call to a 24/7 dispatch centre, a call handler assesses the patient’s condition using the m-mama app, which indicates whether the patient needs transferring to a health facility.
  • If healthcare is required, the nearest taxi ambulance driver is identified on the m-mama app and receives a request to take the woman to the closest health facility. On safe arrival, the driver is paid instantly for the journey via M-Pesa (Vodacom's mobile money transfer system).

Vodafone Foundation launched m-mama in 2013 with Touch Foundation, the ELMA Foundation, and in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, Pathfinder International, and other partners.

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