Beyond emotions and the misfortunes of Dr Ngo Kana and Madam Koumateke's grieving families, we hope that the sad events Cameroon has just exprienced and which highlights the chronic dysfunctions of our health system will be the occasion for all of us cameroonian to use this ''teachable moments'' for the good and the better.
Alain Nteff, 24 years old cameroonian social entrepreneur, a continental recognized leader, "Startupper of the Year" 2016, winner of the Anzisha prize in 2014 and winner of the Young Entrepreneur prize of the New York Africa Forum 2015, co-founder of Gifted Mom, a leading mobile health solutions provider in Africa, granted us an interview where he presents the solutions his organization is already implementing in Cameroon to positively impact the health of pregnant women and new-born babies.
ÔCameroun-NéoIndépendance : M Nteff, our beloved country Cameroon, has just been in the spotlight in the health sector because of two deaths that could and should have been prevented. First avoid, what do you have to say about those sad events as (the) promoter of Gifted Mom?
Alain Nteff - I agree that it has been a sad time for Cameroon and may their souls rest in peace.
To begin with, I will like to emphasise that the big challenges in the world cannot be solved by government or civil society or by business alone. Healthcare especially maternal health is one of such challenges. Although it is necessary to hold the government accountable for tragic outcomes that we experienced, it is very important for each of us as Cameroon to ask ourselves how we can contribute to improve our healthcare systems.
At GiftedMom, we have responded to this events by partnering with doctors to launch Cameroon’s first toll free number 8566 which can permits a pregnant woman or mother to send her health questions in order to get advice from a medical personnel. We believe this service empower pregnant women and mothers and make health information more accessible.
ÔCameroun-NéoIndépendance : You are on the ground since more than 2 years with your Mobile-based maternal app ICT medical tool, GiftedMom, helping to monitor pregnancy and baby development. Could you just remind us how the GiftedMom app works and how it is useful?
Alain Nteff - The GiftedMom app is an SMS & Voice messaging platform that reminds registered pregnant women on when to go for the next antenatal care session or baby vaccination. Weekly education tips are also sent to subscribers. Registration can be done with our partner hospitals or by sending MOM to 8566.
There also exist a smartphone app on the Google Play store with content on antenatal care, breastfeeding and baby vaccination available to women in urban areas.
Recently, we have launched Cameroon’s first toll free number 8566 where pregnant women or mothers with health concerns can send their questions to in order to get response from a medical doctor. To use this service, a woman or relative can text the keyword MOM followed by the question to 8566.
ÔCameroun-NéoIndépendance : Since the beginning of the GiftedMom adventure, which targets have been attained in terms of the numbers of woman reached through the app or the number of villages where you have been or are present for example and other data?
Alain Nteff - GiftedMom has impacted over 8000 pregnant women and mothers with health information, over 600 husbands have also been engaged whose wives do not own mobile phones. We are currently working in 33 hospital and have increased the rates of antenatal care attendance in these hospitals by averagely 68%.
In addition, about 330,000 SMS have been sent out and voice messages in Fulfulde, Arab and Pidgin have been developed for women who do not read or write.
ÔCameroun-NéoIndépendance : Your mobile application in a way gives the opportunity to follow step by step pregnant women and their newborn babies. Do you think that GiftedMom combined or not with other ICT tools could be universal in Cameroon, that every single cameroonian woman pregnant could be monitored as earlier as possible to ensure that her pregnancy moves safely all along?
Alain Nteff - This is our goal for 2016. We have a strategic plan which will enable ICT to provide follow up of every pregnant woman in Cameroon by 2018. This is in partnership with key International NGOs in maternal health, the Ministry of Public Health and the Regional Delegations of health. We hope this dreams comes true.
ÔCameroun-NéoIndépendance : GiftedMom have been rewarded internationally and Nationally many times. You also seem to be recognised and encouraged by the government of Cameroon. Is it true to say that you have the collaboration of the Cameroonian government, and if so, what GiftedMom needs from this government and may be from the Cameroonian people to do more?
Alain Nteff -God has blessed us with awards and recognition which encourages us to do more and also adds credibility & visibility.
We have greatly enjoyed the support of the Cameroonian government. Upon the instructions of the Minister of Public Health, we have been received by the SG of the Ministry of Public, the Director of the Department for Family Health and the Coordinator of the National Program for the Fight against Maternal and Infant mortality. On the eve of this year’s Youth Day, the Minister of Youths and Civic education honored us with an Excellence Prize.
From the government and her health partners, we are looking at how they can sustainably integrate the use ICT for the follow up of pregnant women in their health program. From the Cameroon population, we wish to thank them for their support and all we are asking now is for them to spread the word about the toll free number that we have just launched so as to make health information accessible by pregnant women and mothers.