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

Every pregnant woman has a right to quality care

Image - Thousands of pregnant women

Thousands of pregnant women in rural areas of Africa are unable to travel to hospital in a pregnancy-related emergency and rates of maternal and newborn deaths remain stubbornly high. Our m-mama service uses mobile technology to connect women to emergency transport and save lives.

m-mama is an affordable emergency transport service that is connecting mothers and newborns to vital life-saving healthcare in rural areas of both Tanzania and Lesotho. Weak health systems and delayed access to healthcare are significant causes of maternal and newborn deaths, with the lack of affordable transport for emergency referrals a significant driver of poor outcomes.

Through m-mama, we are using mobile technology to connect pregnant women to care when they need it the most, and so reduce maternal deaths, identified as the number one health challenge by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by as much as 38%.

m-mama is effective because it provides coordination and management to strengthen existing healthcare and transport provision, augmenting it with volunteer community drivers when needed. The coordination is provided through basic technology which works well and cheaply in rural areas. Where ambulances exist they are better utilised but, in the vast majority of cases where they are not available, alternatives are put in place and quickly.

Vodafone Foundation has designed m-mama to be affordable within local health budgets which, coupled with its life-saving impact, has prompted Governments to roll-out m-mama at a national level.  Both Tanzania and Lesotho will reach 100% national coverage in 2023.  Vodafone Foundation and partners are funding all of the set up costs with Ministries of Health funding the residual costs. Once established the Government owns and operates the m-mama service, including all technology elements, within its own health system and budget.

Image - How it works

How it works

The m-mama system creates a network of local taxi drivers to act as ‘taxi ambulances’, in areas where ambulances are rarely available. With detailed referral plans for every clinic and village, the system provides critical management of emergency transport.

  • 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, designed for use on and off-line in rural areas.
  • If healthcare is required, the nearest volunteer emergency driver is identified on the m-mama app and receives a request to take the woman to an identified health facility for stabilisation or treatment.
  • The Dispatcher calls ahead to ensure that the facility is able to treat the woman, diverting to a preordained alternative if needed.
  • On safe arrival at the final treatment facility, the driver is paid instantly for the journey via M-Pesa (Vodacom's mobile money transfer system) or other approved mechanism.

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