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Living on about $120 per month in the slums of Dhaka, Nasima, 27, and her husband, a factory worker, struggled to find additional resources to better care for their newborn child. Their plight is all too common in Dhaka, a city where poverty and illiteracy are prevalent, especially among women and girls. Despite her living conditions and limited resources, Nasima’s story is one of inspiration because she signed up with MAMA in Bangladesh to gain access to timely health information through her mobile phone.
The MAMA mobile health (mHealth) service in Bangladesh, called ‘Aponjon,’ meaning “the dear one,” provides subscribers SMS and voice messages, including skits featuring the character, Dr. Apa. Since launching nationally on December 18, 2012, the number of MAMA subscribers increased nearly tenfold, now reaching 100,000 subscribers.  This is a major milestone for MAMA’s first national program.
The MAMA Bangladesh program is led by the Executive Director of Dnet, Dr. Ananya Raihan, who coordinates with community health workers to engage new and expectant mothers. Bangladeshi mothers, who otherwise would not have access to health information, receive reminders from Aponjon to go to the clinic, information on breastfeeding, messages of encouragement, and evidence-based information to quell cultural myths. Like Nasima, they are empowered to make informed health decisions to care for themselves and their babies.
“Aponjon is providing me with important health information, which I did not know when I had my first baby 12 years ago,” Nasima said. “The messages are particularly helpful when I have no one else beside me to take care of my newborn. I am willing to pay more for this service if it gives me important and useful messages.”
After hearing first-hand from mothers like Nasima, it’s no surprise that MAMA Bangladesh continues to see significant gains and is on track to reach 2 million mothers by 2015. MAMA has a deep understanding of how to engage mothers, as well as husbands and mothers-in-law, who also receive our culturally-sensitive mobile messages.
Together with the help of global partners, USAID, Johnson & Johnson, the UN Foundation, the mhealth Alliance, and BabyCenter, MAMA Bangladesh will strengthen health care in Bangladesh and continue to educate, empower, and engage more mothers and their family members.
In celebration of MAMA Bangladesh’s great milestone, sponsor a mother and help MAMA put the power of health in every mama’s hand. Click here to learn more!