South African Programme
Project Time Frame:
August 2014 - Present
The national MomConnect service for pregnant women in South Africa is a cellphone-based health information initiative of the South African National Department of Health. Since its launch on 21 August 2014 the service has had nearly three million women register on attending public healthcare facilities.
Provide all pregnant women attending public healthcare services in South Africa with appropriate healthcare messaging about their pregnancy
Provide all breastfeeding women attending public healthcare services in South Africa with appropriate healthcare messaging about their child
Provide all women with young children accessing public healthcare services in South Africa with appropriate healthcare messaging about their child
“It is my dream to register all pregnant women in the country - and help you have the healthiest possible pregnancy” Dr Aaron Motsaoledi, the then Minister of Health. The Minister launched MomConnect 21 August 2014.
MomConnect is a South African National Department of Health initiative which aims to support maternal health through the use of mobile technologies integrated into maternal and child health services. It functions as a pregnancy registry and allows for health service planning and health informative targeted messaging to mothers. It uses a standards-based health information exchange serves as a national reference application.
A HelpDesk run by clinical staff of the National Department of Health provides an interactive means for women to get information and provide feedback on services received.
South African Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi launched this program on 21 August 2014. So far nearly 3 million mothers have enrolled on MomConnect. At peak over 10 000 requests per hour are received through the OpenHIM infrastructure maintained by Jembi.
MomConnect allows mothers to register to get stage-based SMS or WhatsApp messages to provide them with information about their pregnancy. Mothers can also opt-in to baby and childcare messaging after giving birth.
The complementary NurseConnect service was launched in 2016 to expand the service to primary health care facility nurses providing antenatal and post-natal care to pregnant and lactating women.
Mothers can opt-in to messaging through a free USSD line, or via an app available to nurses. The registration data moves into DHIS2 in a standards-compliant format through an interoperability layer (OpenHIM). All reporting is provided through DHIS2.
The system must be online 24 hours a day. Various strategies have been developed specifically to ensure continuous availability. Messages are validated, added to a queue and sent asynchronously to a mediator, which wraps all the DHIS2 Tracker API calls. DHIS2 also acts as the Master Facility List in the HIE infrastructure.
Tracker data is aggregated each night by specially developed aggregation scripts. Reports on the number of opt-ins, opt-outs, compliments and complaints, service ratings and patient demographics are accessed via DHIS2 HTML reports, pivot tables and GIS maps.
Project Updates in 2019
The use of cellphones in South Africa has changed since the launch of MomConnect, with around 60 percent of pregnant women in 2018 carrying smartphones capable of adding apps such as WhatsApp (as opposed to about 20 percent in 2014).
Since October 2018, pregnant women with WhatsApp installed can receive messages via WhatsApp instead of SMS. This opens up the possibility of sending more detailed messages as the available formats change. The linking of WhatsApp to the HelpDesk has also increased interactions with pregnant women registered on the system.
Jembi has continued to support these new initiatives with the maintenance and expansion of the OpenHIM interoperability layer connecting the front end cell phone registrations to the back end National Department of Health database.