ARMMAN and Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action Launch Program in Mumbai Bringing Innovative mHealth Services to Underserved, Urban Mothers

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mMitra will help deliver health information to pregnant women and new mothers in urban India

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“Mobile phones are all but ubiquitous in India, growing faster than any other regularly-consumed service, providing a tremendous opportunity to deliver vital health information directly to the Indian women who need it most.

ARMMAN and Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) are proud to announce the launch of mMitra (mitra = friend), and mHealth program that delivers health information to pregnant women and new mothers living in Mumbai slums. The twice weekly voice calls correspond to the subscribers’ stage of pregnancy or the developmental stage of their children, and are sent directly to their mobile phones. Building on successful and growing programs in Bangladesh and South Africa, MAMA and its partners ultimately plan to take the program to scale across urban India.

“I saw firsthand, during my medical training in Mumbai, how lack of access to preventive care information can lead to loss of life. It was heartbreaking, particularly because it was preventable. These experiences provided the background for mMitra which I conceptualized as a scalable solution for this pervasive and systemic problem. We are privileged to work side by side with MAMA to extend the implementation of mMitra to all the municipal hospitals and slums of Mumbai,” said Dr. Aparna Hegde, Founder, Chairperson and Managing Trustee of ARMMAN, MAMA’s main implementing partner in Mumbai. “The right to health includes the right to access correct and timely information.” Founded in 2008 by Hegde, ARMMAN designs and implements scalable sustainable interventions to reduce maternal, newborn and infant mortality and morbidity in underprivileged urban and rural communities in India.

“Mobile phones are all but ubiquitous in India, growing faster than any other regularly-consumed service, providing a tremendous opportunity to deliver vital health information directly to the Indian women who need it most. mMitra is MAMA’s first implementation in India, and incorporates lessons learned from other country programs as well as the unique needs we found in Mumbai,” said Dr. Aakash Ganju, Director of MAMA India. MAMA brings together global and local experts across multiple sectors, to leverage technology to empower new and expectant mothers with critical health information so they have the knowledge to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

“Small pieces of information – delivered in the right voice at just the right time – can result in dramatic changes to a woman’s maternal health,” said Colleen Hancock, COO of BabyCenter. “BabyCenter provides moms around the world with expert advice and emotional support, empowering them to better care for their families. Through our work with mMitra, we are putting vital information right in the hands of Mumbai women, to effect critical behavioral changes in this underserved area.” BabyCenter worked with pregnancy and baby experts from the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and medical experts from Indian municipal and state governments to create the highly-customized messages that will be used with the mMitra service.

“Mobile Health programs are quickly being created to address a variety of society’s challenges, however, relatively few have been able to reach enough people to truly make a difference. In just three short years MAMA has reached nearly 2 million women and families across multiple geographic locations – a noteworthy accomplishment that they hope to replicate in India,” said Kate Dodson, Vice President of Global Health at the United Nations Foundation.

mMitra receives funding from Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions, and content expertise from BabyCenter. Other program partners include the Indian strategic philanthropy organization Dasra, and a number of community-based NGOs and municipal hospitals.

“Every mother should have access to high quality health information, and we have the tools at our disposal to make this a reality,” said Alice Lin Fabiano, Director of Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson. “Johnson & Johnson shares MAMA and ARMMAN’s vision that, by leveraging mobile phones, we can empower millions of Indian women to make healthy decisions and to give their babies the best start to life.”

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About MAMA:
Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) delivers vital health information via mobile phones to new and expectant mothers living in poverty throughout developing countries. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, MAMA providesage and stage-based messages aligned with global best practices, empowering women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. MAMA was launched in 2011 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a public private partnership between USAID, Johnson & Johnson, United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter. For more information visit: http://mobilemamaalliance.org

About ARMMAN:
ARMMAN is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the well-being of pregnant mothers, newborn infants and children in the first five years of their life. Our vision is to design and implement sustainable interventions to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality and morbidity in underprivileged urban and rural communities in India by identifying and addressing systemic gaps in both health services delivery and community health care seeking practices by adopting a multi sectoral evidence based ‘community needs assessment’ approach. ARMMAN’s core programs make innovative use of technology to develop viable interventions and maximize outreach. Current projects of ARMMAN are mMitra (urban)/ Phone Sakhi (rural), Arogya Sakhi home-based Antenatal and Infancy care, Mother and Child High Risk Factor Tracking and HERO (Helpline for Emergency Response Operations). For more information visit: http://www.armman.org

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Stephanie Bowen

Geetanjali Jha Chakraborty
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