Mobiles Uniting Mothers (MUM)
Mothers Help To Fight Child Mortality Through M-Technology
Group Photo at the launch of MUM Project on 07th September 2012
Mobiles Uniting Mothers (MUM) will provide crucial health messages to pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of 5 via mobile phone technology, using an interactive voice response system (IVR).
This exciting international collaboration between a Battambang-based NGO Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP) and its UK National Health Service partner, a mobile phone company Smart Mobile, and representatives of the Cambodian Ministry of Health, is the first of its kind in Cambodia.
The MUM project responds to a huge health need we know exists in this country. Cambodia has already seen impressive gains in maternal and infant health; however, the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) 2010 showed that 40 per cent of children under the age of 5 in this country are chronically malnourished, says Dr Emma Sherwood, MJP MUM's project designer.
“Mothers need access to information. Period!” stated Stephan Bognar, CEO MJP. “International and local organisations working in Cambodia do not have the many more millions of dollars and qualified personnel needed to deliver maternal and infant nutrition and health programmes to all villages scattered across the country.Â We’re hoping to improve the health of all Cambodian mothers, babies and children through the MUM project-placing the power for good health decisions where it belongs-into the hands of the mothers, especially rural mums”. He added “The MUM project is another effective tool which we hope will help to reduce maternal and infant malnutrition in Cambodia.”
Left to right: Stephan Bognar, MJP's CEO, Dr Loeur Choup, MJP's Health Coordinator, co-project managers Ms Sisocheata Choeng and Dr Anne Sikora
MUM is mother-friendly.Â With the touch of a finger, parents can dial a free-of-charge Smart Mobile number and will be able to listen to messages relating to pregnancy, childhood development, nutrition, immunisations, malaria prevention, hygiene and sanitation, as well as information on birth spacing.Â The mother will have the option to listen to as many messages as she would like, as many times as she wants.
The goal of the project is to reach out to those women who have limited access to healthcare and information.Â It will deliver health information directly to them, at times chosen by them. SIM cards will be distributed free of charge at two of MJP’s supported health centres in Samlout.
Thomas Hunt, the CEO of Smart Mobile said, “We, as a mobile telecommunication company, are very happy that MJP have chosen us to be in the project and we strongly support the MUM tool.
He added, “Mobile technology is probably one of the best means to connect the mothers with the available information on how to take proper care of their health, especially during pregnancy. All future mothers can get a lot of useful information just by calling 686 for free.”
The project is being piloted in Samlout, an isolated and very rural community where MJP has been working since 2003. The region was still under the jurisdiction of the Khmer Rouge authorities until 1998.Â If successful in Samlout, the project will be rolled out across the entire country to reach both rural and urban women and equip them with the information to make the best healthcare decisions for their children.
Fundamentally, MJP hopes that the MUM project can contribute to Cambodia’s progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals - to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; to reduce child mortality; and to improve maternal health.
This is potentially a real milestone in the health history of Cambodia.