New Project Links Facebook+SMS in Support of Maternal Health in Crises Settings

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By: Mari Tikkanen, Managing Director, Marketing for International Development

The following post is contributed by Mari Tikkanen, Managing Director of Marketing for International Development (M4ID), which designed the platform for the Mama project with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). To read a blog post from the WRC on Mama, click here. This post also appears on M4ID’s blog and is posted here with permission.

A new M4ID-designed Facebook and SMS communications initiative, Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises, was launched today in New York by the Women’s Refugee Commission. The project addresses an important information gap for maternal health workers in emergencies, as identified by WRC research.

Through Mama, health workers are now able to identify themselves as maternal health champions within humanitarian organizations or in the field and to join a community of practice. Maternal health practitioners will, though five innovative applications, be able to seek advice from fellow members, share best practices and lessons learned, assess their own practices/skills level and test their knowledge of the MISP (minimal initial service package). Mama also offers rewards through digital badges for actions taken as well as a ‘Lives Saved Counter’ application through which the community can register when they enabled a safe birth, showing the positive impact of their work.

Mama is also an unprecedented initiative as it addresses the isolation faced by many health workers in the field through the use of new technology. For the first time, practitioners who may not have access to the Internet or smart phones will be able to send their questions/comments about maternal health to the Facebook community via SMS. This text message is posted to the Mama Facebook wall through a Facebook application. The other community members can reply to the question and the answer is sent as a text message back to the practioner. The answer is filtered by the community before it is sent back, and has to be recommended by three members before it is sent.

The project also involves Mama Mentors who provide knowledge on technical updates and answer specific questions. The community will focus on different technical/programmatic themes each month and new mentors will be invited to join in and support discussions.

We are very proud of this innovative project and look forward to providing continued support to Mama and WRC!