12 August 2019
|Since the launch of Touch Foundation’s EWEC commitment in October 2017, the M-Mama program in Tanzania, formerly known as Mobilizing Maternal Health, has made significant progress in reaching our programmatic and commitment goals. These goals are related to expanding access to an emergency transportation system (EmTS) for pregnant women and newborns, strengthening the health system with healthcare worker training and infrastructure development, and planning for sustainability. Ultimately, we aim to reduce the high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality in the Shinyanga Region of Tanzania.
The central component of M-Mama is the emergency transport system to address complications as quickly and effectively as possible, recognizing that many fatal pregnancy-related and neonatal complications are difficult to predict. This innovative transport solution uses digital technology to triage a patient remotely 24/7 and then dispatch an ambulance or community driver with a vehicle to bring the patient to the appropriate health facility for care. In this reporting period, we continued discussions with government partners on the sustainability plan for the M-Mama program and we developed the government payment process for community drivers. A key takeaway from this activity was that the introduction of new mechanisms into a government system require extended bidirectional conversation and co-design time.
We also expanded the impact of this maternal and newborn health work by integrating it with other non-communicable disease services. Working alongside our resource partners, the government, and health facility partners, we are ensuring women have greater access to cardiovascular disease screening and care in order to diagnose and manage any potential complications such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.
Between April and December 2018, the EmTS served 1,087 women with pregnancy-related emergencies and 418 newborns in our areas of operation. The EmTS is not only providing emergency care to mothers and newborns, but it is also improving their health outcomes by bringing them to facilities where they can be seen by skilled birth attendants. Combined, these two factors dramatically increase both mothers’ and newborns’ survival. In addition, we completed basic emergency obstetric and newborn care (BEmONC) training for healthcare workers, a set of life-saving interventions that treat the major cases of death in mothers and newborns, in the five districts included in the expansion of the M-Mama program.
For the sustainable expansion of M-Mama, we also improved the digital technology supporting the EmTS based on feedback from users and lessons from implementation. The new prototype includes a driver registration process, rating and ranking of drivers, and customization of routes and referral pathways.
We remain focused on increasing the number of women and newborns served by the M-Mama program in order to decrease maternal deaths by at least 27% and lower the neonatal mortality rate in the Shinyanga region.
Since 2013, Touch Foundation has worked with partners including the Tanzanian Government, Vodafone Foundation, Pathfinder International, D-tree International and others to save the lives of pregnant women and their newborns in priority hard-to-reach rural areas of Tanzania through our Mobilizing Maternal Health (MMH) program. MMH is a data-driven program focused on improving access to emergency referrals and transportation and strengthening the Tanzanian health system. MMH currently operates in 3 districts in the Lake Zone of Tanzania.
Touch Foundation commits to implement a second phase of MMH to scale the highest impact interventions across 8 districts in the Lake Zone. This includes our Emergency Transportation System (EmTS), which uses technological innovations through a mobile application supporting dispatchers to triage emergencies, identify and coordinate transport (either through ambulances or local drivers), and pay drivers automatically using mobile money. By 2020, we expect at least a 27% reduction in the number of maternal deaths in project support areas (based on data analysis from the first phase of the program), government adoption of the program, including operational oversight and cost, and a platform which can be expanded to support all emergencies and scaled nationally.
This commitment is valued at 1 million USD and will be implemented from 2017-2021.
Touch Foundation and our partners are scaling the Mobilizing Maternal Health (MMH) program to an entire region of Tanzania in order to expand access to emergency transportation services (EmTS) for pregnant women and newborns, and to strengthen the health system through healthcare worker training, infrastructure development and other interventions. The EmTS uses digital technology to arrange for transport of a patient facing an emergency to a health facility with either a community driver or an ambulance. Between October and December 2017, our emergency transportation system served 396 women with pregnancy-related emergencies and 83 newborns in three districts. Encouragingly, we have made significant progress in securing local government buy-in from the additional districts, a main goal for the success and sustainability of our program.