Breaking News:

Big Issues, News

Chipatala cha pa Foni: Texting Gives Expectant Mothers a Head Start


By Aida Akl/ VOA

You don’t have to speak Chichewa to know what Chipatala cha pa Foni is about, but it helps if you are a pregnant mother or health worker in Malawi.

Chipatala cha pa Foni means health center by phone. Launched by the non-profit VillageReach in 2011, the center connects expectant mothers in Malawi with health workers to receive appropriate care and health services.

Part of the program is a toll-free hotline service called ANC Connect, which “uses the hosted service TextIt to send and receive text messages to/from pregnant women and community health workers,” said Erin Larsen-Cooper, Program Manager of the Health Systems Group at VillageReach in an email interview.

ANC Connect is not a mobile app. “By design,” added Larsen-Cooper, “users don’t need an app on their phone to access [the] service; the service can be accessed from any phone [even basic ones] by registering … via SMS.”

Users simply text an approved keyword to a prescribed code in order to register. ANC Connect then generates appropriate prompts to register the client or set an appointment.

Once in the system, registered users can get reminders and tips about reproductive, maternal and newborn health, information about maternal care and child issues, as well as referral assistance.

“If a client misses an ANC appointment, her community health worker will receive a SMS alert,” said Larsen-Cooper.

The two-way text messaging allows VillageReach to increase the number of pregnant women who receive recommended prenatal care visits and information related to birth planning, including reminders to use maternal health facilities for delivery and follow-up services.

In one case, Elina, a single mother testing HIV positive while pregnant, lived 10 kilometers away from the nearest town and needed information and care. But she did not want to disclose her situation at that point and opted to register with ANC Connect to get the help she needed throughout the term of her pregnancy.

In turn, the service lets community health workers keep track of pertinent information about their patients, such as the date of their last appointment, whether they’ve completed a birth plan, and when and where they delivered their baby.

The pilot for ANC Connect, which started in December 2014, was done in partnership with the Clinton Health Alliance Initiative in rural areas in Malawi’s Balaka and Ntcheu districts, where VillageReach said only about 45% of households have access to a mobile phone.

In that case, Larsen-Cooper said ANC Connect “relies on community health workers to follow-up with women who have missed an appointment” and lets women without phones register through a community health worker who receives notifications of missed appointments on their behalf.

According to Larsen-Cooper, 500 pregnant women enrolled in the pilot program. She said participants experienced improved relations with community health workers as a result of using the service, while health workers were able to visit clients more frequently and follow up with expectant mothers who might not get that kind of care outside the program.

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Saulos Chilima: A masqueraded Messiah or a devil not yet known?

    Frank Kamanga Historically, in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed is king. This is probably why -and it is a worldwide phenomenon- desperate peoples around the globe are hanging by the slenderest of threads, putting their hope and trust in figures that either present themselves, or are being portrayed as modern-age “Messiahs”, vowing to…

  • Mrs Mia inspires DPP senior officials

    In a leaked whatsapp conversation among DPP gurus the blue officials said they wish Mrs Abida Mia who has a hardworking spirit was in their team. The DPP officials which include; Ben Phiri, Ngeme Kalilani and Nicholas Dausi just to mention a few said Abida Mia is an insiration to all women in politics. One…

  • FLASH BACK: Kaliati and cadets strip Eastern Region Chief naked, dethrone him

    By Nyasa Times Published: June 6, 2011 Chief Mponda of Nsamala Village in Balaka district, who claim to have been paraded naked by Democratic Progressive Party DPP) Youth Cadets last month, has cried foul over the news that he has been stripped off his chieftaincy. Mponda was beaten up, rubbed down with buffalo beans (chitedze)…

  • DPP, UTM wrestle over corruption evidence

    Two of Malawi’s political parties; the United Transformation Party (UTM) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are pointing fingers at each other over corruption allegations. DPP’s Nicholas Dausi said that Chilima’s secrets will be revealed if he continues to talk ill about the DPP. “He has skeletons in his wardrobe, but he is busy talking…

  • Buleya Lule was electrocuted, assaulted

    Malawi’s Forensic Pathologist and Clinical Forensic Physician, Charles Dzamalala has released results of the medical investigation on the death of Buleya Lule, a suspect in the abduction of Dedza boy born with albinism. Buleya Lule died suddenly on Wednesday, 21st February 2019 while in Police custody after being arrested when he was being suspected to…

  • JB tells govt to speak out on Buleya

    The former President of the country, Joyce Banda has urged government to speak out on how a susppect who was accused of taking a role in the abduction of people living with albinism  died in Police custody. The former President said Malawians need answers on Buleyas death. “This man who died mysteriously in the hands…