Zero Mothers Die, was launched to reduce maternal and child mortality and increase healthcare access through mobile technology. Zero Mothers Die looks to improve the lives of pregnant women by giving them access to vital health care information through mobile phones they have dubbed ‘Mum’s Phone.’
The cell phone, branded pink, will be targeted at women who live in isolated areas without ready access to health professionals. The device will come preloaded with free minutes and emergency contacts for women to call, as well as health information about pregnancy warning signs, HIV treatment and caring for an infant after birth.
I’ve had two children, not really what you would call a pro, but I enjoyed being pregnant. When I learned that I was pregnant, I didn’t worry that my life or my child’s life was at risk – hey, having a baby was the most natural thing in the world. My body was built for this – and it handled the task beautifully both times. I had fairly easy pregnancies, deliveries and my children are quite healthy. I know my experience is not the norm, even for women in the United States. What I can’t imagine is having a genuine fear for my life and the life of my child during the forty weeks I was pregnant. It was such a beautiful and magical time. I was elated, full of hope, a little apprehension at times – but I felt confident in the healthcare system and had access to all the information and resources I needed to ensure that my baby and I remained healthy. Yet, approximately 529,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes annually and almost all (99%) of these maternal deaths occur in developing nations.
Every woman’s pregnancy must be considered special. We must invest in e-health and women for greater impact. No baby should die because the right information was not available. — Christine Kaseba, First Lady of Zambia
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women still die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day. Even though my experiences were positive, they were not without their own moments of drama.
- During both pregnancies I had pregnancy induced hypertension [PIH]-a pretty risky condition forcing me to induce labor both times. Fortunately, this condition was identified in my regular check-ups with my doctor, who monitored my blood pressure, recommended bed rest and finally inducing labor. Without these regular check-ups my condition may not have been detected, which could have lead to serious conditions such as liver failure for myself or fatality for the baby.
- In my eighth month of my pregnancy with my daughter, I tripped and fell, hard directly on my swollen belly. I was scared to death, but a quick call to my doctor eased my concerned and gave me the information I needed to reassure me my little bundle was doing just fine. Without access to good information – I would have panicked and stressed; which are unhealthy for both me and my growing baby.
- My son had nuchal cord during delivery, the umbilical cord wrap around his neck. Again, in my fortunate case, my nurse was trained and experienced, asking me to stop pushing while she addressed the problem before continuing with the delivery. Without a trained professional on the scene – this could have been fatal for my son.
- My daughter, who was born a happy and healthy eight pounds, four ounces, lost too much weight in the first weeks after her birth. She was having difficulty breastfeeding and with the bottle. But after several trips to the pediatrician; taking her in daily to monitor her health and weight; we finally made the change she needed in our nursing methods and resolved the issue. Without having access to this kind of support and health monitoring; my daughter may have not survived those first few weeks of life.
I had clean water, a wide variety of healthy foods to choose from, safe and comfortable shelter and access quality medical care. I had every reason to be confident that my children and I would be just fine. Thankfully, we are. But that is not the case for so many women. It is incredibly sad to know that every minute a woman dies during labor or delivery. With the highest maternal mortality rates are in Africa, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 16. This should be a wonderful and joyful time; not weeks and months of fear and stress.
Armed with the ‘Mum’s Phone’ from Zero Mothers Die, women who would normally not have access to health care or health information with receive text- and voice-message campaigns on maintaining a healthy pregnancy will also be sent to the phone in local languages, they will have emergency contact information and free-minutes to call when they need help. I love to see technology helping in such a simple way. There are still things that need to change to improve the health of mothers and babies in these parts of the world. But this simple idea can make a huge difference for many.
The first Mum’s Phones will be distributed in Ghana, and plans to launch the campaign in Zambia and Mali are in the early stages. Airtel, a mobile network carrier in Ghana, has provided 675,000 minutes to the campaign so mothers can call emergency services free of charge.
Zero Mothers Die is currently raising money
through a crowdfunding campaign for the handsets