Through the use of SMS and prerecorded voice services, SaferMom hopes to make a big impact on maternal/child health in Nigeria.
Lanre Adeloye, Co-Founder, SaferMom
Using digital health to improve quality of healthcare in Africa’s rural areas is a great burden for digital entrepreneurs within and outside the continent because of the limitation of tools that could be deployed – the Internet is not expected to be very effective and low broadband penetration coupled with high illiteracy rate make it unrealistic, for now, to deploy telemedicine. But a new Nigerian-founded digital health startup, SaferMom, is hoping to use mobile health technology to reach the undeserved in Nigeria.
“SaferMom is an innovative startup up with an idea to use unique communication channels to provide pregnant/nursing mothers with timely and targeted health information via SMS and prerecorded voice services in local languages to improve maternal and child health."
Speaking to nuviun, founder of the startup, Lanre Adeloye said the project had been in beta phase and piloting since last year but there are now ready to go public.
SaferMom is one of the most innovative African startups short-listed for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship seed funding. The platform was developed by Adeloye and a team of committed physicians, advisors and software engineers.
“Our target audiences are nursing and pregnant mothers who lack access to the Internet – mostly who reside in rural communities,” Adeloye said.
Since the service is not Internet-based, he said messages are delivered through two-way SMS system and voice services in local languages.
“We built an improved communication system that allows mothers to receive targeted information based on their last menstrual period (LMP) or age of the baby.”
According to Adeloye, SaferMom’s platform is built to automatically send vital health information and deliver family health campaign messages such as malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis advisories via targeted SMS and voice services.
The platform can also be used to track vaccinations and medical appointment adherence, disperse emergency information, and provide several other functions.
“The 2-way system is a smart way for care providers and health workers to monitor impact. A message is sent and the recipient replies with a letter or numerical key. The letter or numerical key chosen by the audience determines the next message he/she receives,” he said.
He believes the service could serve both rural dwellers and urban settlers in Africa.
“But we believe we're concentrating on rural dwellers because we believe they need the service more. Most lack access to vital health information, and most lack access to smart phones and Internet. Imagine us being a Google for rural women to access health information,” he told nuviun.
The developers said the platform would be deployed through strategic partnerships with health workers, NGOs, agencies and care providers.
“We register mothers by recording their last menstrual period (LMP) or age of the baby and other crucial information. Then our system automatically sends out messages every Monday and Friday based on their developmental stages and information provided,” he said.
The business side
He revealed that NGOs and agencies would pay to use the platform to reach out to mothers; other targeted paying clients include organizations working on maternal and child health, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. He revealed some of them have already shown huge interest.
“There is a monthly subscription for using the platform based on the number of mothers registered. Data mining from agencies and NGOs is also another model,” he said. Adverts, subscriptions from relevant maternal and child product companies...all other models are private for now.
“Two researchers are currently using our platform; we'll be working with an organization to register 1000 mothers in Ekiti (a city in southwestern Nigeria) next month (July). Two new organizations have contacted us without reaching out to them.”