At a ceremony at the KT Motubatse Community Hall in Soshanguve on Thursday, August 20, U.S. Ambassador Patrick H. Gaspard and Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi commemorated two significant achievements: the one year anniversary of MomConnect and the launch of a new adolescent and youth mobi-site, B-Wise.
More than 500,000 pregnant women have registered with MomConnect to receive potentially life-saving advice to help guide them through pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of the child’s life. The initiative, which just celebrated its first year, is a partnership between the South African National Department of Health (NDoH) and PEPFAR – the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR contributed $4.9 million to develop and support the program. MomConnect provides new and expectant mothers with vital information via SMS, empowering women to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. To subscribe to MomConnect, mothers and mothers-to-be need to call *134*550#.
Speaking to the hundreds of health practitioners and members of the local community in the audience, Ambassador Gaspard explained, “When you empower women and give them the ability to take control of their health, you don’t just change their lives – you change the lives of their children, their communities, and their country.”
Minister Motsoaledi followed the MomConnect celebration by launching the Adolescent and Youth Mobisite, B-Wise, which carries the slogan “Health at Your Fingertips.” This program will provide young South Africans ages 10-24 with the information, tools, and support to live healthier lives. Users can navigate via computer or smartphone to the website, B-Wise.mobi, to get information on nutrition, HIV/AIDS, and drug and substance abuse, among other health-related topics. In addition, during the allocated Live Chat hour, users will be able to connect with experts such as psychologists, nutritionists, and general practitioners, as well as the Minister of Health. The site is NDoH-owned, with funding support from PEPFAR.
At the launch, Minister Motsoaledi championed the site, stating, “We want to enable the youth and adolescents of South Africa to make healthy choices and avoid risky behavior. This is an important step toward that goal.”