J&J, Clinton launch maternal mobile health service

By Brian Dolan
09:37 pm
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This week Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the establishment of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), a new partnership that will leverage mobile technology to help prevent death during childbirth. With an expected $10 million in funding over the next three years, MAMA plans to launch in Bangladesh, India and South Africa.

Given the federal government and Johnson & Johnson's involvement, it's surprising the MAMA launch makes no mention of Text4Baby, which counts HHS and J&J as key supporters.

MAMA will deliver customizable health information — depending on the stage of pregnancy — to mothers’ cellphones via text messages or voicemails. MAMA is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Johnson & Johnson, with support from the United Nations (UN) Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter.

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Citing “encouraging trends,” Clinton went positioned MAMA as an extension of broader, already successful public health initiatives targeting marternal health that are currently underway. According to Clinton: “Recent data confirms that the global maternal mortality ratio has declined 34 percent between 1990 and 2008. In Bangladesh, for example, maternal mortality has gone down by 40 percent. In Nepal, where it was the first time, many years ago, that I saw a birthing kit, which some of you know is one of UNICEF’s great contributions, and in Nepal it’s dropped 50 percent. So our investments in family planning and maternal and newborn health have contributed to a decline of at least 30 percent in maternal deaths in 19 countries.”

According to Clinton, MAMA will help “more women live healthy lives and more babies to get off to a healthy start." Clinton said that "we have to keep asking ourselves what works and... take it to scale, and if it doesn’t work... quit doing it and find something more innovative and effective.”

Monday’s announcement comes nearly eight months after a speech Clinton delivered in August 2010 at a USAID conference on the opportunity that mobile phones provide for economic development, healthcare, government, banking and more.

More in the press release here

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