HealthEnabled describes MomConnect at eHealthALIVE
As health challenges go, Africa’s HIV/AIDS is big. At 12%, it’s the biggest cause of deaths. Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) is one initiative aiming to help. Peter Benjamin for HealthEnabled explained MomConnect’s role to eHealth ALIVE.
Messages about HIV supplement the main MomConnect content. They’re for HIV positive pregnant women and mothers to try to keep their babies HIV negative. Its aim’s to strengthen the National Department of Health’s (NDOH) strategy on PMTCT by supporting adherence to approved protocols and greater linkage of women to healthcare. There are 95 messages, covering pregnancy, delivery, up to the baby’s first birthday and a final reminder for 18 month tests. Pregnant women or mothers of infants living with HIV in South Africa, and caregivers for HIV positive infants benefit by opting into the system.
Patients know about MomConnect’s PMTCT service from their health workers advise HIV positive pregnant women and mothers of infants to up on their own mobile phones. They can do this at any stage, first stage Anti-Natal Care (ANC), late diagnosis or after delivery. Health workers can give women business cards as reminders. Posters also provide information, such as “Are you HIV positive and Pregnant? Ask the health worker.”
Signing in’s easy, with simple questions, steps and guides, and using keys 1 and 2 for responses. Opting out’s simple too.
The PMTCT helpdesk coordinator at NDOH Pretoria can answer SMS questions on HIV, pregnancy, PMTCT and related issues. It’s in parallel to calls out to HIV positive pregnant women and mothers. High-risk patients are a special priority for this service. These include women under 18 years old and the first ANC’s after 20 weeks. The helpdesk asks if they’re ‘Stable on Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs?’ and ‘Disclosed status?’ in research. They’re supported by links with local PMTCT services such as Mother2mothers. Western Cape offers follow-ups by Community Health Workers (CHW) for high-risk patients during pregnancy. There’s a National MomConnect link to local care too.
The initial pilot in five districts ends in December 2016. They’re Gauteng: Johannesburg and City of Ekurhuleni, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN): Ethekwini and Umgungundlovu and Western Cape: Cape Town, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Southern. It’s already decided to retain the pilot in these five districts until September 2017. Research with Wits Reproductive Health Institute (WRHI) will determine implementation in all districts as a national rollout, so more news to come.