Creating mHealth support networks for pregnant women living with HIV
in Pretoria, South Africa
Project Kopano was set up following the success of Project Zumbido in Mexico. The three-month pilot project was established in February 2010. Project Kopano aimed to support programmes tackling prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Pretoria, South Africa. This support was offered by giving women access to mobile phones where they could communicate in a group via SMS about issues affecting their lives during the critical period of their pregnancy.
Many pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa face considerable challenges that include a lack of emotional support, and high levels of social isolation and stigma, these factors can make it difficult for them to comply with PMTCT programmes. During the project, participants used their mobile phones to discuss a wide range of issues affecting their lives, including medical treatment, breastfeeding, unemployment, and how to talk to others about being HIV-positive.
Project Kopano is considered to be an 'mHealth project' - one of a growing number of projects worldwide that use mobile phone technology to create sustainable models to improve health.
The Kopano pilot was run in partnership with the Yale School of Medicine and the University of Pretoria. The SHM Foundation and partners are now looking for ways to expand the pilot to test the model further.