This morning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new public-private partnership that aims to improve maternal health outcomes by harnessing the power of mobile phone technology. Called the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), this $10 million partnership between USAID, Johnson & Johnson, the UN Foundation, mHealth Alliance, and BabyCenter LLC will work to help new and expecting mothers in the developing world gain access to vital health information.
Many women lack access to basic health information on how to have a safe pregnancy and take care of a healthy baby. Mobile health messages can reach women in otherwise resource-constrained settings, efficiently and at low cost. These messages quickly inform women of how to care for themselves during pregnancy, highlight warning signs, connect women with local health services, reinforce breast feeding practices, explain the benefits of family planning, and make new mothers aware of how best to care for their babies.
MAMA will act both locally and globally to empower women with access to information. Over the next three years, the partnership will work across an initial set of three countries, Bangladesh, South Africa and India, to help coordinate and increase the impact of existing mobile health programs, provide resources and technical assistance to developers of promising new business models, and build the evidence base on the effective application of mobile technology to improve maternal health. Lessons learned from these and other initiatives will be shared globally in a coordinated exchange of information. The partnership will foster collaboration among similar initiatives in other countries to accelerate efforts to reach millions of women with mobile phone access around the world with critical health information.
The launch can be viewed on the US State Department's website and featured Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson William Weldon, and Founder of Every Mother Counts Christy Turlington Burns.
“If we are going to improve public health across the developing world, our solutions must be focused on reaching the hard to reach with health information they would otherwise not receive,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah. “This partnership will harness the power of mobile technology to provide mothers with information about pregnancy, childbirth and the first year of life, empowering these women to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.”
“Better health for communities starts with better health for expectant and new moms. This public-private partnership adds another way we are extending our commitment to moms everywhere,” says Bill Weldon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “It’s part of fulfilling our commitment to the UN Secretary General's Global Strategy to advance the Millennium Development Goals.”
“Instead of imagining a world where the health of mothers benefits from mobile phones, we are answering the call today to make it happen,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation and member of the Partnership Board of the mHealth Alliance. “This new initiative will take the vision that world leaders and the UN Secretary-General announced last year and turn it into action.”
“This is an exciting approach to using technological innovation to address development challenges,” said United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. “The growing global network of mobile health information programs will deepen our understanding of how best to use mobile phones as a tool to improve women’s and children’s health.”
Each institution will play a unique role in this partnership. Founding partners, USAID and Johnson & Johnson, will provide funding and strategic leadership. Supporting partners, including the UN Foundation, mHealth Alliance, and BabyCenter LLC, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, will provide expertise, tools, resources and a forum to exchange knowledge and share best practices to support the research and extend the reach of promising initiatives.
The partnership supports President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development, his Global Health Initiative and the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.