Praekelt.org Pilots Whatsapp for Social Impact on Behalf of MomConnect

Photo credit: MAMA/Karin Schebrucker

The last decade has witnessed the power of mobile phones and data connectivity to advance the delivery of vital information and services. Recently, Praekelt.org, a non-profit using technology for social impact, partnered with WhatsApp, using the Whatsapp Enterprise Solution to engage with mothers on the South African Department of Health’s MomConnect platform.

MomConnect is a South African National Department of Health initiative which supports maternal health through the use of cell phone based technologies integrated into maternal and child health services. MomConnect is the only nationally integrated mHealth platform in Africa, available in all clinics in South Africa with over 1.8 million mothers registered since its inception in August 2014.

In September 2017, all public registrations were given the option of using WhatsApp as their medium of choice for receiving maternal health information. Mothers receive a regular Whatsapp update with information and illustrations, and mothers can opt in for additional messages on the baby’s progress. There has been an overwhelming response from moms since initiating the pilot. The 1% of MomConnect subscribers using Whatsapp are now generating more than 50% of the HelpDesk queries.

MomConnect is helping to achieve South Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to reduce maternal and child mortality. Using Whatsapp to connect to Moms is an incredible opportunity to have them take a more immediate and active role in their healthcare whilst affording us the ability to significantly scale MomConnect,” says Gustav Praekelt, founder of Praekelt.org.

Most popular models of disseminating stage-based information to pregnant women centre around email and SMS. In many countries these means are often too expensive or simply inaccessible for many women. Whatsapp provides a cost effective and engaging way for mothers to access this information in their language of choice.

WhatsApp provides the opportunity to rapidly scale up and iterate a completely new model of social impact in emerging markets. Praekelt.org aims to improve the lives of women and their families through this integration, particularly in places with high maternal and child mortality.

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