By: Kirsten Gagnaire, Global Director of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)
Mobile phones are taking center stage everywhere. Moms always have been. So what do you get when you connect moms with mobile phones? The potential for instantaneous positive change for moms, for families, and for the global fight to stop millions of women and children from dying every year, simply because they have no access to basic health care or information.
That’s the mission and driving force behind the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Health – or aptly referred to by its acronym MAMA. More than one billion low- and middle-income women already own mobile phones. So MAMA is harnessing this technology to deliver vital and timely health information to new and expectant moms, particularly the poorest and hardest-to-reach moms in the developing world.
Launched on Mother’s Day 2011 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, MAMA is a unique public-private partnership between Johnson & Johnson, U.S. Agency for International Development, United Nations Foundation, BabyCenter and mHealth Alliance, which also serves as the partner secretariat. In just its first year, MAMA is already reaching mothers in 35 countries from Afghanistan to Zambia with a projected reach of over 20 million moms, via its free mobile phone adaptable messaging service and country programs.
MAMA was just recognized for its innovation, progress and promise by Fast Company, selecting MAMA as a finalist from among more than 1,700 entries – from Facebook to Ford -- in its 2012 Innovation By Design Awards competition. Submissions were vetted by 27 independent and prominent judges, from MoMA senior curator Paola Antonelli to Coca-Cola vice-president of innovation David Butler. According to Fast Company, the finalists exemplify “the year’s most inspiring, ingenious and innovative design solutions.“ Winners will be announced on October 16.
Here’s how MAMA works. Moms register for the mobile phone service by indicating their expected due date, or the birthday of their recently born child, and receive weekly health messages and reminders during the pregnancy and up to the infant’s first birthday. Timed messages include tips on everything from proper nutrition, newborn care, breastfeeding, immunizations, and connections to local health resources.
As a mom, I have been blessed with access to an array of health resources to help me through my pregnancy and my children’s health concerns. As MAMA global director, I am blessed with the opportunity to help deliver credible and culturally sensitive health information right in the palms of millions more mothers’ hands.
For more information on MAMA, please click here.
For more information on Fast Company, please click here.