SMS Maama sends three types of easy-to-read automated text messages to women looking for more information about their pregnancies.

1) Informational texts

  • Knowledge related to:
    • Pregnancy
    • Birth
    • Postpartum period

2) ANTENATAL APPOINTMENT REMINDERS

  • Encouraging women to:
    • Attend scheduled appointments
    • Bring partners with to clinic

3) INTERACTIVE SCREENING TEXTS

  • YES/NO screening questions aimed to identify potential serious health complications
  • Linking women into care
  • Encouraging women to recognize signs/symptoms even if they themselves may not be experiencing such a symptom at that moment in time

Q. How is SMS Maama unique?

A. Each time a woman responds to an interactive YES/NO text message, she receives a small monetary incentive (pilot purposes: 1 maama point)*. If a woman responds to 1/2 of the YES/NO messages throughout her course of involvement in SMS Maama, she will earn enough to purchase a safe-birthing or "maama kit," which contains all of the vital and necessary supplies for safe delivery (valued at ~$7 USD). 

"Maama kits" are supposed to be free of charge for women in Uganda, but this is unfortunately, not often the reality. If a woman presents to a hospital for delivery, but does not have such a kit, she is often turned away.

SMS Maama is working to empower women with the opportunity to purchase such a kit so that they and their child may have a safe birthing experience.

A maama or safe-birthing kit. Maama kits contain all of the necessary items needed for a safe and healthy delivery that many hospitals in Uganda cannot often provide themselves (i.e. sterile plastic sheets, gloves, soap, cord ties, cotton, etc).

A maama or safe-birthing kit. Maama kits contain all of the necessary items needed for a safe and healthy delivery that many hospitals in Uganda cannot often provide themselves (i.e. sterile plastic sheets, gloves, soap, cord ties, cotton, etc).

*For purposes of the 2017 research pilot, SMS Maama is providing all mothers with a free maama kit at their 4th antenatal care appointment as compensation for their time. To test the utility of the "incentive system", women earn "maama points" each time they answer a YES/NO question as opposed to small monetary incentives. Women can then exchange points for items from our "Maama box," which contains small baby-care related items such as shampoo, lotion, rattles, onesies, etc. 

SMS Maama is currently working with Benedict Medical Centre in Luzira, Kampala to conduct focus groups and a research pilot.

GOALS of 2017:

WHO: Women attending 1st antenatal appointment

WHAT: Gather data on how women view pregnancy, the challenges that may arise during it, and their opinions of a mobile health text messaging educational service

HOW: General questions related to pregnancy, development of complications during pregnancy, thoughts on a text messaging educational service, mobile phone usage

STATUS: Currently ongoing


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WHO: 200 women between 10-28 weeks gestation attending Benedict Medical Centre (BMC) who are interested in, fulfill enrollment criteria, and consent to study enrollment

WHAT: All participants will receive informational and interactive text messages related to: pregnancy, birth preparedness, nutrition, delivery, postpartum education, in addition to appointment reminders

GOAL: Test feasibility, utility, and desirability as measured by pre- and post-test assessments, in addition to various mHealth metrics

STATUS: Currently in the process of midwife and study personnel training, in addition to obtaining the final local and international IRB research clearances; will be enrolling soon!


Q: SMS Maama is a social business venture, why bother with research?

A.  We believe one of the key principles of good business is to see if customers like the product. At SMS Maama, we believe it is worthwhile to verify that the product we are "selling" is worthy of being sold (i.e. Does it work? Do women use, value, and interact with it?). Mobile health technologies have become of increasing interest in the past few years, but there are very few studies out there that show it's utility. We - at SMS Maama - wanted to do just that before we expand to more rural areas in Uganda and other locations around the globe.