Driving around Africa in both congested cities and sparsely-populated rural towns you will see that most people carry a mobile phone in plain sight, countless signs for mobile providers can be seen at nearly every turn, and “top up” guys scout out customers who are in constant need of more mobile minutes. Mobile is here to stay in Africa and so are mobile apps. In fact, there are now over 600 million mobile users on the continent and an increasing crop of new mobile companies creating apps for a populace ripe for innovative mobile technology.
Mobile health apps, in particular, are steadily becoming mainstays of Africans’ mobile health care. Free and easy-to-use, these mobile apps are educating Africans on ways to stay healthy and are providing simple access to health facilities and frontline health workers.
Maternal health mobile apps are one way the tech sector is hoping to reduce the number of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa where the maternal mortality ratios are the highest. Here are five mobile apps that saving mothers’ lives in Africa.
- Abiye Safe Motherhood Initiative (Nigeria) – The Ondo State in Western Nigeria saw a high rate of maternal deaths each year. In order to reduce the number of women who were dying in childbirth, Ondo State launched its Abiye Safe Motherhood Initiative. One of the components of the initiative which began in 2009 was to give free mobile phones to expectant mothers with free minutes. The mobile phones are used by women who live in rural areas who can call for transport to a health facility.
- Gifted Mom (Cameroon) – Seven thousand women still die annually in Cameroon from preventable complications during childbirth. Through simple, free SMS messages, Gifted Mom reminds Cameroonian women when to go for antenatal care and why it is important for them to do so.
- Mom Connect (South Africa) – Since its launch in 2014 nearly 500,000 South African women have received pregnancy and delivery information from Mom Connect, a mobile app that provides tips and education for expectant mothers. Mom Connect also allows health workers to follow up with expectant mothers if they miss an antenatal appointment or if they need additional care during pregnancy.
- Safe Delivery App (Ethiopia) – The Safe Delivery App created by the Maternity Foundation is a robust app that can be pre-installed on mobile phones that helps health workers identify basic obstetric complications during delivery through video. The app also quizzes health workers which allows them to constantly update their knowledge.
- Zero Mothers Die (Ghana, Gabon, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia) – Zero Mothers Die provide small pink phones to expectant mothers that gives pregnancy and childbirth educational messages via voice in local languages as well as pregnancy push notifications. The women also have access to emergency numbers to health facilities and health workers.
As mobile technology becomes more ubiquitous across Africa there will likely be an increasing amount of maternal health mobile apps that will save the lives of countless women across the continent. While there is an ardent push to reach African women with mobile pregnancy information there are still millions more who need access to this life-saving technnology.
Photo: United Nations