Faster to Zero: EMTCT in South Africa and Uganda
Despite significant improvements in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, keeping women in care throughout the full recommended cascade of services remains a challenge. In addition, women living with HIV may not feel comfortable asking certain questions of their health provider or may not have access to a provider when they need information.
When integrated into national health and information systems, digital health tools can help health care workers to provide effective counseling and support patients throughout their care, as well as engage and inform clients and their families in their care. In South Africa, the national MomConnect initiative has registered more than 1.7 million pregnant women to receive health messages on their mobile phones throughout their pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. In Uganda, the national FamilyConnect program sends timely and relevant messages to pregnant women, mothers, and other household members with reminders to return to the health facility for recommended services.
The South Africa National Department of Health is working with partners HealthEnabled and K4Health to expand MomConnect to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). Through this collaboration, pregnant women who are living with HIV and enrolled in MomConnect can choose to receive additional weekly messages and support from a professional PMTCT nurse at a virtual help desk. Weekly mobile phone messages include:
- Reminders to consistently take prescribed antiretroviral therapy
- Tips on how to manage treatment side effects
- Breastfeeding guidance
- Reminders to return for recommended testing and care for their infants
A dedicated and experienced nurse at the help desk answers questions in several languages and can connect women with support services in their community.
Faster to Zero Uganda
HealthEnabled and K4Health, in partnership with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, are working with the Ministry of Health in Uganda to expand FamilyConnect to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Women living with HIV and their family members receive health messages and appointment reminders directly to their mobile phones in their preferred language.
These messages will provide critical information and reminders and help family members to support pregnant women living with HIV. The goals of the Faster to Zero initiative are:
- Pregnant women living with HIV will be more likely to attend antenatal and postnatal care appointments
- Babies born to women with HIV will be more likely to be tested for HIV at recommended intervals
- The Ministry of Health will continue to work with partners to scale up to serve women across all districts
MomConnect PMTCT and Faster to Zero Uganda are supported by a public-private partnership between the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Johnson & Johnson.