Launched in November 2016, the South African Department of Health's NurseConnect platform uses mobile technology to support nurses and midwives working in maternal health, child health, and family planning. Nurses receive regular information about maternal and child health via their mobile phones designed to improve their professional skills, and provide inspiration and recognition for their work. The initiative seeks to improve South Africa’s high maternal mortality rates, and is a companion to the MomConnect programme, which uses mobile technology to support pregnant and new mothers.
While MomConnect supports mothers with free maternal and child health messaging, NurseConnect complements this service by supporting the nurses and midwives who are taking care of the mothers and their babies. Nurses also receive maternal and child health messaging and advice via sms, but the information is more detailed, technical, and sophisticated than those sent to mothers. The service also allows nurses to send feedback and queries to a central help desk, and provides a mobile-optimised website offering in-depth information and advice. Through these services the programme hopes to improve medical knowledge and professional skills development, encourage personal growth and self-improvement, and provide inspiration and recognition for work well done.
The kinds of messages nurses receive are:
- Everyone deserves to be treated with respect! As a midwife, the way you treat a mom is really important. Your patient trusts you!
- Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is best for al babies. Could you (and your facility) be doing more to help moms to get this right?
- It’s easy to prevent the spread of infection! Always wash hands or spray hands with alcohol-based disinfectant before touching any newborn.
Since the launch of NurseConnect, about 12,000 nurses have registered to the service, involving 1,700 health facilities. A learning module will be added to the mobile site in early 2017.
Maternal and child health
The National Department of Health's MomConnect programme has demonstrated the potential of mobile technology to improve the health of new and expectant mothers, but while nurses and midwives play an integral role in that programme, very little is being done to provide additional support directly to them. Currently, nurses in South Africa often have to contend with outdated clinical knowledge, insufficient awareness of updated government protocols, limited professional development opportunities, and inadequate peer-to-peer education and support.
The MomConnect service, launched in 2014, has one million expectant mothers subscribed for weekly informative text messages geared towards their stage of pregnancy and the first years of the child’s life. As of 2016, the service is receiving roughly 1,000 questions from mothers each day. See Related Summary below for more information on MomConnect.
Department of Health, Johnson and Johnson, Discovery Health, and Praekelt.org