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Mother Mati’s Phone and Flipbook

SUBTITLE: Call Mother Mati for A Trusted Voice. Follow her picture book for a healthy Mother and Baby. SUMMARY: Linking picture flipbook, an automated phone messaging service and an automated SMS service to assist mothers and midwives to take simple steps to prevent major causes of maternal mortality.

Photo of Tristan Cooke
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The below is the original text to our entry. This has been updated in the video and presentation.

The major causes of maternal mortality including severe bleeding, infections and eclampsia. The solution should involve simple preventions for these major causes.

The primary inspiration for this is the success of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT): a simple sugar and salt solution given to infants to treat dehydration related to diarrhoea. This simple solutions has saved millions of infant lives.

The diffusion of this innovation owes much to the ability to communicate is in simple, pictorial and culturally specific terms. This included using respected mother figures and simple posters and like the one at the following link:

The technological constraints are considered below. In short it was decided to stay within the existing limits of the world most popular phone, especially in the third world: The Nokia 1100. High cost and technology solutions are perceived to be a significant barrier to participation.

The idea is to connect three media in a low cost way to influence / teach simple behaviours. All three media would be connected by a culturally appropriate voice. In the image example we have place Mother Mita, representing a possible mother figure for Bangladesh - IMAGE 1

1. Flipchart: Have a simple pictorial flipchart with tips for mother and midwives before, during and after birth. Mother Mati's image would be on the flipcharts.

2. Phone: Have a freecall number on the bottom of each flipchart that would go to a pre-recorded message explaining the action to take. Mother Mati would introduce herself and give the tip.

3. SMS Service: Allow the mothers to sign up to a free Mother Mati SMS service. This service would be a text prompt for the mothers to look at specific flipchart cards.

The mothers may in turn they may call Mother Mati for more information. Thus completing the cycle and continually drawing mothers to the book and Mother Mati's voice.

All of the above is in IMAGE 2


Three examples of flipchart tips have been included in the images.

1. Before Action: Pre-disinfect towels/blankets etc that the mother's exposed skin will come in contact with during child birth to prevent infection – IMAGE 3.

2. During Action: Midwife to watch hands - IMAGE 4

3. After Action: Swaddle/hold baby after childbirth to promote uterine contraction - IMAGE - 5

The Nokia 1010 allows a speakers to be attached. Therefore, provide the local midwife with a speaker that can be attached to the mothers phone. The mother brings their phone in and attach it to the speaker. This can, then, be used to bring the voice of Mother Mati into the room and give the midwife creditability. Nokia could, prehaps, provide this speaker and Oxfam the flipbook - IMAGE 6

My collaborator and all around great and talented guy on this concept was Thomas Nelson. You can see his blog here:

What is the minimum level of mobile technology needed for this concept?

We decided that the innovation must have be able to diffuse widely. Access to higher level and cost technologies are likely limited in the areas of most need. Decided the solution must be low cost with access to currently existing technologies maximised. This is because though more technologically advanced solutions with higher cost may work better in individual cases they will, ultimately reach less people. Therefore we decided to stay within existing mobile technology. The Nokia 1100 mobile phone was found to be the most widely used phone in the third world. The key features are the ability to make calls, SMS, program 50 number and attach the phone to a speaker. Our only 'new' technology to be provided with the innovation is a speakerphone to Decided to assist informal midwives, rather than try to improve access to more formally trained health care professional.

How could this work in a low-literacy context?

One of the primary barriers considered was low or no literacy for mothers. Therefore, all instructions are given pictorially. Additionally, the first link in the cycle is to call Mother Mati on a pre-recorded message, getting around literacy issues. Finally, any SMS messages would be very simple and use the aid of the flipbook. Low literacy levels are only required and the project could still succeed with no literacy.

Which partners could help realise and deliver this solution?

  • Oxfam
  • Nokia
  • Mobile operators
  • NGOs
  • Government

Virtual Team

The initial development of this concept is equally shared between myself and Tom Nelson:


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It might be interesting to work with local artists to produce images for each book that are specific to each region, or alternately, to work with nationally recognized characters (maybe cartoon characters, or perhaps actors in photographs rather than drawings).

Photo of Tristan Cooke

Great ideas. Tailoring the message to the culture is important. Perhaps we can get a mother from a tv soap opera on board in some cases where access to technology is better? I remember being in remote Vietnam and Indonesia and some places still having access to tv.

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