Health care: A star is born

BY 10am the antenatal and postnatal section at Soshanguve Community Health Centre, north of Pretoria, is packed with women — some heavily pregnant, others cradling newborns or shushing toddlers.

The women shuffle along a winding series of chairs in a linoleum and facebrick hallway, moving one seat closer to the exam rooms.

Deliwe Mahlangu is here with her son Junior for his three-day post-birth check up. It is an obligatory appointment, one of many necessary visits that will keep her here for at least a morning per visit. Fortunately Mahlangu expects to spend less time at the centre with this her second baby, because she is linked to a program called MomConnect.

“I don’t have to run to the clinic every time I have a question. I just ask a question by SMS, and they send the answer to me,” she says.

“If I have pain, or the baby has nappy rash, or whatever, they will say to me ‘just check the temperature’ or tell me ‘you should go to the clinic’.”

MomConnect is one of the health department’s mHealth (mobile-enabled health) services, intended to help reduce maternal and infant mortality, and empower women through the provision of relevant, accurate health information.

(AAT provides USSD and SMS connectivity to the Praekelt Foundation for the MomConnect Project)

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