SAN FRANCISCO, February 3, 2015 – Nexmo, the leading cloud communications company, today announced a collaboration with VillageReach, a Seattle-based non-profit global health innovator, that developed the first comprehensive health center by phone for expecting mothers in Malawi. VillageReach teamed up with Nexmo to make Chitpatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone, a hospital-based case management hotline and mobile message service that provide critical prenatal and childbirth information, available to mothers in remote areas.
Malawi has one of the highest rates of maternal, child, and infant mortality in the world, and simply knowing when to seek professional care and reaching the location of those resources can substantially reduce maternal and child mortality rates. A lack of healthcare professionals combined with the distance between health centers and the most rural communities often prevents women from accessing essential information and services. This results in women either neglecting needed care, or traveling substantial distances only to be told their symptoms could be treated at home.
Through a partnership with Concern Worldwide, VillageReach developed a new solution to mitigate these barriers using mobile phones: a substantial amount of people in Malawi own or have access to mobile phones, and can send and receive voice and text messages.
VillageReach designed CCPF to increase access to timely and appropriate reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health information, advice and care. CCPF consists of two main components: a toll-free hotline staffed by trained health professionals and a service that provides automated tips and reminders via text and voice. The toll-free hotline provides families with information and advice on health issues and refers callers displaying “danger signs” for further care at a village clinic, health center, or hospital. The tips and reminders service provides regular text or voice messages tailored to a mother’s week of pregnancy or a child’s age.
“CCPF provides a reliable and cost-efficient way of connecting Malawi women and mothers with the health system, especially those with the most limited access to health information and services,” said Jessica Crawford, Malawi Country Director for VillageReach. “The combination of a staffed hotline with mobile messaging is a unique offering in global health where many other programs and platforms focus on one-way communication only.”
VillageReach partnered with Nexmo to meet the challenge of low-resource communities and intricate Malawi cellular networks. Nexmo’s cloud SMS API was easily integrated into the CCPF call center, allowing automated voice, text messages and short codes to be up and running within hours. Because Nexmo partners directly with Malawi carriers instead of using a second-party networks, messages are sent on time, very rarely get dropped and are less expensive to send.
Implementing Nexmo communication APIs has contributed to a highly effective health program, with mothers seeing an increased use of antenatal care within the first trimester, bet net use during pregnancy, and early initiation of breastfeeding. CCPF serves four districts in Malawi that consist of a total population of over 300,000 women and children, with plans to expand to additional districts in 2015. The positive effects of CCPF have garnered the attention of the Malawi Ministry of Health, who endorsed CCPF in 2014 and is currently planning for national scale up. VillageReach is currently seeking funding to support the national expansion while maintaining services of the current program.
“The work that VillageReach is doing is inspirational and reflects just how powerful cloud communications can be, helping provide a necessary health service in a region that would otherwise be underserved,” said Tony Jamous, CEO of Nexmo. “We are inspired when our technology is being used to bridge the digital divide and deliver a social impact.”
VillageReach is a global health innovator that develops, tests, implements and scales new solutions to critical health system challenges in low-resource environments, with an emphasis on strengthening the “last mile” of healthcare delivery. VillageReach improves health outcomes by extending the reach and enhancing the quality of healthcare, focusing on the most critical barriers in these environments: lack of infrastructure, information availability, healthcare access, and human resource constraints. For more information and to support VillageReach programs visit www.villagereach.org
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