How Technology Is Being Used To Reduce Maternal, Infant Mortality

The joy of Mrs. Ariyo, knew no bounds when she delivered her baby a few years ago.

Before her new bundle of joy, she had suffered repeated loss during childbirth — a situation which earned her several name tags from her in-laws.

Today, the story is different. Mrs. Ariyo, an Ekiti-based mother, and several others are beneficiaries of SaferMom initiative — a platform that addresses the issues relating to the maternal health care care crisis in Nigeria by using interactive and low cost personalized text/voice messages.

Within just about two years of its establishment, SaferMom already has no fewer than 2,500 subscribers: “We have registered 2,500 subscribers to our platform, some of whom are fathers or relatives in case the mother has no access to a mobile phone,” Lanre Adeloye, CEO of SaferMom said.

SaferMom engages mothers with vital health information in the form of SMS and personalized voice calls to improve maternal and child health. Apart from pregnancy follow-ups, tracking of immunizations, nutrition guides, child health and safety tips, SaferMom also sends messages that help disprove superstitions.

Adeloye and his team are poised to eradicate cases of maternal, neonatal and child mortality using mobile health technology in underserved communities in Nigeria. Adeloye expressed satisfaction of the success recorded so far since the introduction of the SaferMom initiative. “The testimonies we receive have been one of the best thing that happened to us and also our driving force. Maternal and child health illiteracy is considerably high in Nigeria,” he said.

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The team — which comprises physiologists, public health practitioners, physicians, designers, and programmers — came together to reduce this phenomenon and presently works in southwest Nigeria with the hope of making it a pan-Nigeria project with time.

For Adeloye and his team, the idea to introduce the SaferMom initiative is more than just hype but the passion to provide a solution to the scourge ravaging poor women in society. A passion driven by the result of research: “Our research shows that most solutions available aren’t targeted at mothers below the poverty line but rather at mothers with smartphones or Internet-enabled phones. Our innovative and unique solution allows mothers to access our platform irrespective of the kind of phone they use or their location,” Adeloye said.

He added, “As we speak, a mother has just lost her life due to complications related to pregnancy and child birth according to reports by the World Health Organization. In a core village in northern Nigeria, an unskilled health practitioner is probably battling for the life of a child who has little hope of surviving.

“These are a few realities of a country that loses about 40,000 mothers and 260,000 newborn babies yearly due to preventable health challenges. With about 50 percent of the total population of Nigeria living in low-income communities, access to comprehensive health care is a luxury. Many new and expectant mothers travel for several hours to access health care, thereby reducing antenatal care by 40 percent in the developing world.

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