In Bangladesh, Asha Rani recalls how she struggled to care for her now 9-year-old son when he was an infant. “I didn’t know how to take care of him or what to feed him,” she says.
But now, with text messages that deliver helpful health information, Asha is better prepared to take care of her 1-year-old daughter. “The messages help me learn new things, like breast-feeding exclusively for six months,” she says. “When the baby was 3 months old, the messages I received told me to make eye contact. Acting on this information will help my daughter to learn and grow.”
The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) is using mobile technology to improve the lives of pregnant women, new mothers and their families in developing countries throughout the world. In 2012, MAMA launched Aponjon, a mobile health service delivering critical stage-based information tailored to mothers like Asha Rani and their supportive family members in Bangladesh. There are already more than 12,000 subscribers.
MAMA is a public-private partnership launched in May 2011 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Johnson & Johnson, the mHealth Alliance, the United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter©. MAMA has made a multimillion-dollar investment to create and strengthen mobile health information programs in three countries—Bangladesh, India and South Africa—and to enhance the global capability of new and existing programs for underserved moms in those countries and beyond.
MAMA was named a 2012 Fast Company Innovation By Design Award winner in the Service Design Category. The award recognized MAMA’s adaptable messaging service and its in-country programs, which have already reached more than 100 organizations in 40 countries from Afghanistan to Zambia.
The health messages mean a better experience and better health for Asha Rani and her daughter. They also mean family involvement based on the same health information. “My husband reads the messages too and helps me take care of the baby,” she says.
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From the 2012 Johnson & Johnson Annual Report