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Pilot Program In South Africa Provides Pregnant Women, New Mothers With Health Information

“According to UNICEF, 4,300 mothers die in South Africa every year due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, 20,000 babies are stillborn and another 23,000 die in their first month of life,” Imani Cheers, a multimedia producer and assistant professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. She describes a program called MAMA, which “provides pregnant women and new mothers with vital information and support using their mobile phones, through five different channels, including an interactive website, text messages, social networking and voicemails.” Cheers writes, “MAMA South Africa faces many challenges, including literacy rates among users and he high cost of text messages,” and she notes the program “is ending the pilot phase … and working on gearing up to increase the scale and reach of the mobile service with a goal of reaching 500,000 mothers by 2015” (7/16).