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World Prematurity Day: Saving young lives in South Africa through technology

UNICEF South Africa/2016
© UNICEF South Africa/2016

SOSHANGUVE, November 2016 - Prematurity is one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 globally and in South Africa it is one in three major causes of newborn deaths. On World Prematurity Day 2016, commemorated annually on 17 November, UNICEF, the National Department of Health (NDOH) and other civil society partners showcased advanced and cost-effective technological solutions for the prevention and care of preterm babies.

This year’s event took place in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, with the support of the Kgabo Community Health Centre, where hundreds of new and expectant mothers have benefited from lifesaving initiatives spearheaded by NDOH and their partners. One of these initiatives is ‘MomConnect’, an SMS service that sends new mothers a range of informative messages including on the development of their babies, clinic appointments and breastfeeding tips for the first 1,000 days of their babies lives. UNICEF has been partnering with NDOH on this innovative platform since its inception in August 2014.

UNICEF South Africa Country Representative, Herve Ludovic de Lys, expressed his gratitude for the role played by key partners in the development of the service. “MomConnect is a shining example of how technology can support development,” he said, noting that to date, over one million mothers have been registered on the service.

South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaldei introduced the audience to the first registered mum, Denisile Khumalo as well as the one millionth mum Zandile Mahlangu, while thanking UNICEF for its ongoing support. In an external evaluation of MomConnect by the University of Stellenbosch, it was found that knowledge and understanding of mothers as well as attitudes towards their health and their pregnancy improved as a consequence of receiving messages from MomConnect.

World Prematurity Day is a reminder of the collective efforts of UNICEF, Government and all other partners to reduce prematurity rates in South Africa.






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