South Africa and Uganda
Despite significant improvements in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in both South Africa and Uganda, keeping women in care throughout the full recommended cascade of services remains a challenge. 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.
The Faster to Zero initiative aims to support Ministries of Health and partners in the scale-up of digital health tools to accelerate the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (EMTCT). This public-private partnership is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), and is led by K4Health and HealthEnabled. Uganda and South Africa are priority countries for Faster to Zero.
In South Africa, Faster to Zero has partnered with the National Department of Health to develop and implement the PMTCT component of the National MomConnect program. We build on the success, national scale, and supporting partnerships of MomConnect to provide pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV with important health information and access to a virtual Help Desk. Weekly mobile phone messages:
- Remind women to consistently take their prescribed antiretroviral therapy,
- Provide tips on managing treatment side effects,
- Encourage breastfeeding, and
- Remind women to return for recommended care and testing for themselves and for their infants.
Several messages also encourage mothers to contact the Help Desk if they have questions or if they need more support. A dedicated and experienced nurse at the Help Desk answers questions in several languages and can connect women with support services in their community.
In Uganda, the Faster to Zero initiative is partnering with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Ministry of Health to address critical gaps in EMTCT using practical digital health solutions. After a thorough technology assessment process, in which the team met with key in-country stakeholders and conducted a literature review to understand the PMTCT and digital health landscapes, stakeholders participated in a prioritization workshop to review the assessment findings and identify the most appropriate solutions.
Through these activities, the Faster to Zero initiative will contribute to the development of a national digital health strategy for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and strengthen the local capacity to design, implement, and evaluate digital health solutions in line with national standards and priorities.