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Tanzania’s Healthy Pregnancy Text Message Service Reaches 100,000 Subscribers in 15 Weeks

Posted on 02 April 2013 by Africa Business

The unique healthy pregnancy text messaging (SMS) service reached 100,000 active registrants in March 2013. More than 4 million text messages have been sent to those who signed up for the free healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood information, since the launch late November 2012.

 

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PRWEB)

“Wazazi Nipendeni’ (Parents Love Me) is a national healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood multi-media campaign. The mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership strengthen this campaign by providing informative text messages and appointment reminders in Swahili at no charge for pregnant women and mothers of newborn babies up to 16 weeks of age. This service offers also free information to her supporters – such as husband, friends and family – and information seekers”, explains Sarah Emerson, Country Manager, mHealth Tanzania Partnership, CDC Foundation.

The Wazazi Nipendeni multi-media campaign includes promotion of the free text messaging service by listing the short-code on the campaign materials and instructs anyone interested in more information about healthy pregnancy to send the word ‘MTOTO’ (child) to the short-code 15001. Registrants receive instructional messages during registration, allowing them to indicate the woman’s current week or month of pregnancy (or the age of the newborn baby) during the enrollment process. “This process allows the recipients to receive specific text messages at the time the information is most relevant to them. The service registered an average of 7000 people per week. Healthcare partners such as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF) and the Aga Khan Health Services – Joining Hands Initiative – play an important role by supporting the registration assistance of pregnant women at the healthcare facility level.

 

The text messaging service sends out timely free healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood information

“Now people can have access to health information in the palm of their hands.”

 

Eliza’s experience
“I found the text messages on my phone very useful during the period of my pregnancy”, says Eliza (29). This first-time mother was part of a group of women that gave feedback on the informative messages before the service started. She registered for the service as soon as it was launched in November 2012. “I was happy to receive the ‘Wazazi Nipendeni’ information about my pregnancy. I liked the helpful tips, including the importance of attending clinics regularly. I was able to learn about the need for testing and malaria prevention. I feel that it benefited me to know these things. I was able to go and deliver my baby safely since my baby was born healthy and without malaria. This service has also assisted my husband to better understand what I was going through during my pregnancy, so that he could be of greater assistance to me according to my needs.”

Eliza works as a housekeeper in Dar es Salaam and considers herself privileged when it comes to receiving information. She reads the newspapers and listens to radio. The housekeeper believes the service will especially be useful to women in remote areas as many have a mobile phone. “Many people, especially those living in rural areas, are not realizing how important it is to visit clinics”, she states. “They just don’t receive as much education and information as we do a big city. Newspapers are scarce there and not everyone has a radio. It also does not cost anything to get these text messages. So anyone can get the information from the Wazazi Nipendeni text messaging service. It will benefit many people, because it reaches all regions around the country.”

Government led initiative
Tanzania is a large country, it almost 900,000 square kilometers big. The country is approaching a population of 44 million. Current reports show that there are over 25 million mobile phone subscribers in our country. Tanzania registers the highest average number of text messages sent per month per subscriber in East Africa. The use of text messaging (SMS) doubled over the past few years to almost 5 billion messages in 2012. The mobile technology is therefore recognized by the ministry as a useful tool to offer crucial healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood information to even the most remote pregnant woman and her supporters.

Dr. Mwendwa E. Mwenesi M.D, M.A- Health Policy, Planning and Management, Phones for Health (mHealth) Country Coordinator is proud to introduce the service as part of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare current mHealth initiatives: “The government actually has recognized the benefits of using technology for healthcare”, she elaborates. “The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is giving a priority to mHealth initiatives and projects, because we have seen what it can do. The text message service Wazazi Nipendeni offers maternal health information and care of newborn. It can be accessed by the pregnant mother and couples through their mobile phone. Now people can have access to health information in the palm of their hands!” (See also the video of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania http://goo.gl/5Ozdc.)

The media campaign and text messaging service support the Government of Tanzania (GoT) and the United Nations (UN) Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Tanzania (CARMMA TZ), officially launched by President Kikwete in 2011. The Wazazi Nipendeni campaign takes steps in operationalizing CARMMA TZ as well as in directly supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It is the aim of the Tanzania governments Strategic Plan to accelerate reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths in Tanzania (2008-2015). The Tanzania government aims to reduce the roughly 45,000 newborn deaths and 13,000 maternal deaths it registered in 2008 by three-quarters by 2015.

The mHealth Partnership Country Manager Emerson underlines that the text messages include comprehensive healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood topics: “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.”

Partners and donors
The Wazazi Nipendeni text messaging component of the campaign is led by the Government of The United Republic of Tanzania and is supported by several key partners including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Joining Hands Initiative (JHI-Aga Khan Health Services), Text to Change and many others.

The Tanzania mHealth PPP is looking for corporate sector organisations to join and benefit from such collaboration; through relationship building, public relations as well as marketing opportunities etc. For more information please contact our team through info(at)mhealthtzppp(dot)net, You can also find us on Twitter as @mhealthtzppp.

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IMF Concludes 2013 Article IV and EFF Review Mission to Seychelles

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

VICTORIA, Mahé, March 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Carol Baker visited Victoria from February 20 – March 5, 2013 to conduct the 2013 Article IV consultation discussions and assess performance at end-December for the seventh program review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement with Seychelles.1 The mission met with Finance Minister Pierre Laporte, Central Bank Governor Caroline Abel, other senior government officials and members of parliament, as well as representatives of the private sector.

At the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Baker issued the following statement:

“The Seychellois economy has shown resilience in the face of the difficult global economic environment. Economic growth has held up thanks to increasing tourist arrivals from non-traditional markets; fiscal policies have remained firmly on track toward the government’s target of bringing public debt down to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2018; and debt restructuring is nearly complete. Monetary tightening has been successful in reversing the inflationary uptick experienced last year, and inflation pressures are expected to continue their recently observed downward path.

“The government has made sustained progress in implementing the IMF-supported program. All end-December 2012 quantitative targets under the program were met. The broader structural reform agenda is also moving ahead, with cabinet approval of the public sector investment program and passage of the Public Financial Management Act. The mission welcomes the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT), which will modernize and strengthen the tax system, and encourages the government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the VAT is applied efficiently.

“The government of Seychelles has made significant strides since the time of the 2008 debt crisis to stabilize the economy, improve financial discipline at the central government level and reduce public debt. However, challenges remain. Seychelles’ open economy remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Moreover, like many small middle-income economies, Seychelles faces the medium-term challenge of achieving high-income status in the face of limited opportunities for rapid growth.

“Policies in the period ahead should aim to cement macroeconomic stability, and support growth and employment. Ensuring a buildup of buffers against shocks will be critical in the current global economic environment, and requires the continuation of prudent macroeconomic policies and the safeguarding of international reserves. Moreover, the mission urges the authorities to bring the same level of fiscal discipline observed at the central government level to the broader public sector, including through the gradual adjustment and rebalancing of domestic utility, food and transport prices. Throughout this price adjustment process, it is of utmost importance to take the necessary steps to protect the most vulnerable segments of Seychellois society, while increasing use of mean-tested benefits in social welfare to ensure that it does not act as a deterrent to labor force participation.

“In terms of growth and employment, the government should maintain momentum for their ample structural reform agenda which aims to foster an environment conducive to private sector participation in economic activity. Key measures include modernization of the legal framework—such as the Companies, Insolvency and Labor Acts—in line with international best practice; financial sector development aimed at reducing the cost and increasing access to credit, especially for small and medium enterprises; and building capacity of local labor to bring it in line with the needs of the private sector. In the case of housing and social protection, policies should seek to balance addressing market failures and protecting the vulnerable against overly generous benefits which deter labor market participation and private sector development.

“The mission appreciates the high quality of the discussions and wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, and the open and constructive dialogue.”

1 The Extended Fund Facility under the Extended Arrangement is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries facing serious medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address. Assistance under the extended facility features longer program engagement—to help countries implement medium-term structural reforms—and a longer repayment period. (See http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/eff.htm). Details on Seychelles’ current arrangement are available at http://www.imf.org/seychelles

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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Zinc Tour Expands To Insular Region Of Equatorial Guinea

Posted on 02 November 2012 by Africa Business

Government continues to distribute zinc sheets and improve living conditions for poor

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, Nov. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Head of Defense and State Security, expanded the national zinc sheet distribution to the Insular Region last week.

The campaign, which is a government-led initiative, was designed to improve living conditions for impoverished families throughout the nation by donating zinc sheets to replace the nipa roofs.

The zinc roof campaign has affected a number of regions throughout the nation, including Aconibe, Centro Sur, Wele-Nzas, and now the Insular Region. Thousands of zinc sheets have been donated in addition to other services.

“The zing sheet program is complemented by other social projects,” said Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, “such as the building of rural schools and teachers’ houses, or health posts and water wells.”

Since it was initiated, the Second Vice President has supervised the tour and the implementation of various projects to enhance the living conditions of rural families and communities. He has traveled with a team of physicians during the campaign and had them treat individuals who were sick with limited access to resources.

This tour, along with the complementary development projects tied with it, exemplify the government’s efforts to address social welfare issues in Equatorial Guinea and promote better living conditions for those who are disadvantaged.

About Equatorial Guinea

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (República de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country’s oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. Equatorial Guinea is now working to serve as a pillar of stability and security in its region of West Central Africa. The country hosted the 2011 Summit of the African Union. For more information, visit http://www.guineaecuatorialpress.com.

SOURCE Republic of Equatorial Guinea

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Equatorial Guinea Promotes Improvement In Social Welfare At International Leadership Conference

Posted on 20 October 2012 by Africa Business

 

President Obiang invites African and U.S. experts to participate in discussion on enhancing various sectors in Equatorial Guinea

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea called for an improvement in social welfare during the second day of the International Leadership Conference, which took place this week in the capital city of Malabo. U.S. experts and African leaders were invited to address a variety of topics, such as education, health and tourism, and ways in which the sectors could be further enhanced within the country and the African region.

“These sessions were designed to bring together specialists from the United States and Africa and promote discussion on a number of issues,” President Obiang said. “I believe that we can gain valuable insight and knowledge from our guests, which I hope will contribute to a better future for Equatorial Guinea and for Africa.”

The first group of meetings on the second day focused on Ecotourism, Art and Culture, during which leaders, such as Mayer James L. Walls, President of the World Conference of Mayors, and Jose Mba Obama, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism, presented ideas on how to increase American tourism to Africa and enhance the sector nationally through continued infrastructure development. Ken Johnson, Director of the Institute for Intercultural African Management, talked about the strategic importance of ecotourism and how it diversifies and enhances the economy.

Later in the day, representatives from Equatorial Guinea and health experts from the U.S. convened to discuss major health issues in Africa, specifically in Equatorial Guinea, and how U.S. involvement can help combat such problems.

“The U.S. has valuable expertise and resources to offer in this particular field,” said Equatorial Guinea‘s Deputy Minister of Health, Miguel Obiang Abeso, “and we greatly appreciate their support.”

The Minister said that Equatorial Guinea has made major strides in combating national health problems, referencing the country’s significant decline in infant mortality and the free distribution of malaria drugs among the population.

He stated that in order to effectively prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, the country’s leaders needed to work together in educating the public and changing social behavior as well as making pharmaceuticals more accessible. David Wutoh, President of Healthcare Consulting and Logistic in Laurel, MD, United States, discussed local production of pharmaceuticals and how it benefits the community.

Following the health meeting was a session on education, which permitted teachers and specialists from different American universities to focus on the critical role education plays in the progress of a country. Robert Jennings, the President of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, among others, addressed the development of the education sector for African Americans in the United States, and how their experiences could be applied to Equatorial Guinea.

In addition, they talked about the value of educational exchanges between Africa and North America. In fact, Equatorial Guinea‘s Minister of Education, Maria del Carmen Ecoro, later met with education specialists from the U.S. to develop agreements with African educational institutions that would increase bilateral cooperation.

Throughout the remaining days of the International Leadership Conference, the U.S. and African participants will continue to share knowledge and promote collaborative efforts. They will utilize the expertise and experiences of the U.S. representatives to find solutions to current issues and promote development within Equatorial Guinea and Africa.

About Equatorial Guinea

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country’s oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. Equatorial Guinea is now working to serve as a pillar of stability and security in its region of West Central Africa. The country hosted the 2011 Summit of the African Union. For more information, visit http://www.guineaecuatorialpress.com.

SOURCE Republic of Equatorial Guinea

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