The Amazingly Creative Way Text Messages Are Saving Tanzanian Women's Lives

Technology is great.

If you happen to be in Tanzania and see a mother — or expectant mother — on a cellphone, she's probably not playing Candy Crush. Instead, she may be reading text messages that come as part of a recent initiative to help give lifesaving tips to moms-to-be in fast and easily consumable ways. 

Though infant mortality rate in Tanzania has decreased over the last two decades, 250 women still die during childbirth a day. These deaths, along with a high infant mortality rate, are the reason activists and government health services (including those of the CDC) have found a way to help women and children in the country have safer pregnancies and go on with their babies to live the most healthy lives.

Enter the Wazazi Nipendeni, or the "Parents Love Me" campaign. According to Reuters, the program is a text-based initiative that sends messages to Tanzanian women with lifesaving tips, such as reminders for doctor's appointments and basic health information. All they have to do is text "CHILD" to the code 15001.

"The messages cover timed information concerning prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS, antenatal care, family planning, malaria prevention, nutrition (for mother and baby), danger signs, individual birth plan, postpartum care and entertaining information such as fetal development milestones," said Sarah Emerson, country manager of the Health Tanzania Public Private Partnership Center for Disease Control Foundation. 

Reuters reports that 5 million texts have been sent to the 25 million subscribers thus far.

Direct Relief
Direct Relief Direct Relief/Flickr

Reuters used a woman by the name of Halima Rahim as an example of where the texts could be useful. When she had her baby, locals advised her to feed her baby porridge as she wasn't taking breast milk, which isn't the best practice. A text for proper breastfeeding would come in handy.

The CDC Foundation explained the goal is to "reduce maternal and infant mortality numbers by three-quarters by 2015."

With its cited 45,000 newborn and 13,000 maternal deaths in 2008 alone, these texts are worth the screen time.