Feb 20, 2012
HIVSA, through support from the Elton John Aids Foundation, has developed an innovative new cellphone service to allow South African women and their partners access to relevant, up-to-date, health information on HIV, pregnancy and baby health. The hi4LIFE service will be available anytime, anywhere.
Reproductive, maternal and child health have become major concerns for South Africa if we are to meet our 2015 Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6. In South Africa today, the mortality of people under the age of five is on the increase, we have unacceptably high rates of adolescent pregnancy, and the majority of people living with HIV in South Africa are females.
HIVSA believes that providing easy access to relevant, updated public health information will have a positive impact on these issues. Having produced large volumes of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials, HIVSA recognises the importance of using mobile phone technology for information and mHealth education.
Important information relating to primary health care also needs to be made available to everyone, allowing individuals to make informed decisions resulting in healthier life choices for themselves and their families.
In South Africa, mobile phones have become a major channel for information. More households own a mobile phone than a radio, and SMS, please call me, the internet and Mxit, for example, can be used for large-scale health information and education applications.
In South Africa there are approximately 45-million cellphones in use, and more sim cards in use than the entire population. High coverage resulting in high impact can be obtained through an innovative national eHealth mobile phone application.
hi4LIFE's interactive Mxit based health application now has over 100,000 people signed up (primaily young women and pregnant women) and over 3,000 return for more information every day. This Mxit based application has had more than a Million interactions to date and the daily poll regularly gets over 3000 voters. In addition, over 40,000 people have used the 'Star Menu' application which can be accessed by dialing *120*6336# on any South African Cellphone and hi4LIFE has sent out over 300,000 targeted SMSs containing health tips to Pregnant Women. hi4LIFE's main mobile web site at http://mama.mobi has been visited by over 10,000 people.