The South Africa Department of Health (DoH) has been developing a national mHealth (mobile health) strategy to create an enabling environment for implementing mobile-based health interventions in programming for HIV and other programmes to improve health outcomes for people. MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa (MEval-SIFSA) has provided technical assistance in developing this strategy and implementation plan.
MEval-SIFSA is also providing technical assistance to help address challenges in mHealth implementation with a focus on HIV initiatives. The project is producing practical informational products on interoperability design, privacy and security considerations in design, good practices for messaging and materials, and good practices in providing mobile devices to providers.
The MomConnect mhealth initiative is the national DOH’s flagship mHealth program that has been brought to scale through a PEPFAR collaboration, and supported by MEval-SIFSA through participation in a consortium of partners and direct technical assistance to the national DOH. In this program, pregnant women are registered and then are sent stage-based messages relating to their pregnancy. Messages are also sent after delivery and for a year after the baby’s birth. Due to the high prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in South Africa, the messaging includes HIV-related information, promotes HIV testing, and promotes breastfeeding according to government guidelines. MEval-SIFSA is also supporting a helpdesk that can accept either compliments or complaints from participants in the program. This helpdesk also is linked to existing helpdesks, such as the AIDS helpline.
To assist the DOH to scale up MomConnect, MEval-SIFSA supports the objectives of the MomConnect initiative. We will assist to link it to the foundational elements for mHealth in order to help achieve better mother and child health outcomes in South Africa. In supporting MomConnect, MEval-SIFSA seeks to transfer skills, resources, methodologies, and tools to the government so that these activities can be continued without donor support and can continue to strengthen the implementation of the national mHealth strategy.