Dar-es-Salaam – The United States and Vodafone Foundation are strengthening maternal health in Tanzania by partnering to expand President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s M-Mama program. The partnership was cemented in a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by USAID Tanzania Mission Director V. Kate Somvongsiri and Managing Director Vodacom Tanzania Philip Besiimire.
Launched by President Samia Suluhu Hassan in April 2022, the m-mama initiative will soon be available for Tanzania’s entire population of 60 million through this MOU which provides a combined $15 million in support from USAID and Vodacom. President Hassan had requested that m-mama be implemented nationwide, which required additional funding. In response, USAID pledged $5 million for two years to supplement the $10 million provided by Vodafone Foundation and the in-kind contributions from Vodacom Tanzania and the Government of Tanzania.
“This partnership, and the m-mama project is empowering women to lead better and healthier lives. The impact of this will go beyond pure numbers, as mothers, girls, and newborns benefit from a simple solution to a complex problem,” said USAID/Tanzania Mission Director Kate Somvongsiri. “As President Biden recently stated, elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do – it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all.”
The m-mama collaboration with the Government of Tanzania and Vodafone is a priority for the United States both in Tanzania and Washington, with USAID Administrator Samantha Power championing the agency’s support during the UN General Assembly in September 2022. In Tanzania, where the maternal mortality rate is extremely high, particularly in rural regions with limited emergency transport services available to less than 1 in 10 individuals, m-mama is making a significant impact. Presently, m-mama runs a toll-free hotline (115) in 13 mainland regions of Tanzania and all 5 regions of Zanzibar. So far, more than 21,800 mothers and newborns have been transported through m-mama’s service, leading to the preservation of roughly 1000 lives.
“The m-mama system is a testament of our mandate to connect for good by utilizing our digital and technological innovations to address the real social issues affecting Tanzanian communities,’ said Zuwena Farah Director of Corporate Affairs and Vodacom Foundation Tanzania. “Maternal health remains a global challenge, and innovative solutions are needed to ensure safe and effective emergency transportation for women in need. Through this partnership with USAID, we aim to make a lasting impact on maternal healthcare in Tanzania by harnessing the power of technology and innovation.”
Delivering the address on behalf of the government, Zanzibar Minister of Health Honorable Nassor Ahmed Mazrui stated, “We appreciate the support from both USAID and Vodacom Tanzania Foundation to accelerate the implementation of m-mama in the country. Public-private partnerships are instrumental in tackling the complex challenges faced by the healthcare sector, and we firmly believe that by combining our resources and expertise, we can accelerate progress towards achieving SDG targets on health, leaving no mother behind.”