The First Lady of the Republic of Angola has set herself a big goal: Ana Dias Lourenço wants to drastically reduce the rate of new HIV infections among babies in her country. She is the patron of a large-scale health campaign in which the aid organization People in Need (PIN), the mobile communications company Unitel S.A. and CreaLog are working together. Under the umbrella of "Born free to shine," HIV-positive mothers are taught via voice messages how to prevent the transmission of their HIV infection to their newborns. Unitel commissioned the matching messenger service, which went live on December 16, 2021, to CreaLog.
The current project is part of a UNAIDS-supported campaign by the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) and partners. "Free to Shine - Africa United against Childhood HIV" aims to use the unique commitment and advocacy of the First Ladies to strengthen the efforts of political leaders in the fight against HIV among children in Africa.
Baby health is now the specific focus of the "Born Free to Shine" campaign - in Portuguese, "Nascer Livre para Brilhar." For Angola the project is an extension of the already existing program "Mobile Health," which has been serving around 9,000 HIV-positive women and their children since 2017. It primarily aims to improve families' knowledge of how to prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby.
This is entirely in line with First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço, who reaffirms her commitment with a clear statement: "I will do everything in my power to ensure that Angolan children are born free of HIV."
In an agreement with the First Lady's office, Unitel undertakes to send automated informative voice messages in Portuguese and the national languages Kwanhama and Chokwe, to telephone numbers previously registered in the project. These messages, developed with the help of medical professionals and other experts, cover the period from pregnancy to the child's age of 24 months. In the first phase, the program will reach 10,400 mothers, 150 health center technicians, 150 traditional midwives, and 100 NGO caregivers & technicians, as well as 11 hospitals in the provinces of Moxico, Cunene, and Luanda.
The First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço stressed that she wanted to see the project in all Angolan provinces in the future. She therefore appealed to all supporters to commit to this cause in the long term.
The proportion of illiterate people in Angola is still around 30 percent. Women in rural regions in particular do not have easy access to school education. Consequently voice messaging was chosen as a solution, enabling all sections of the population to participate. However, the messenger service also sends messages via SMS if subscribers are not reached by voice despite multiple attempts.
Unitel Project Manager Manuel Ebo emphasizes the importance of the initiative:
"It is with great pleasure that I have participated in the management of this project, as it is a project of social scope that focuses on innocent children. It is a project that aims to save lives. The First Lady of the Republic of Angola and all those directly involved in this fight are grateful for this initiative, as it will facilitate the fight against HIV transmission to children."
Rezan Solmaz, CreaLog project manager for Unitel, comments on the successful implementation of the concept:
"I realize many interesting projects in the field of automated customer services, but such a solution with very practical benefits for broad sections of the population - that makes me particularly proud!"
CreaLog's collaboration with Unitel, Angola's largest mobile communications company, which serves over eleven million customers, once again proved successful in this project. In addition to a large service portal for customer care, a CreaLog mass calling platform has been in use at Unitel since 2009.
In 2014, Unitel used the CreaLog platform to market exclusive and particularly low-priced smartphone packages especially for female customers during Angolan Women's Month. Furthermore Unitel customers were able to request three songs by well-known artist Anselmo Ralph as a musical serenade via SMS and forward them to their loved one's phone.
Unitel has supported several e-health initiatives using the CreaLog platform since 2016. More than 60 million SMS messages and more than 4 million voice messages have been sent covering topics like Stop Malaria, COVID-19, and Road Safety.
Since 2017, the project 'Mobile Midwife' has been sending dynamic voice messages in the national languages Portuguese and Umbundu. The messages contained important information for the mother and her newborn, ranging from hygiene and nutrition tips to reminders about the baby's next medical checkup.
The year 2018 saw the successful launch of the talent show 'Estrelas ao Palco' (Stars on Stage), where votes were cast by phone, SMS and the app 'Idolos Angola'. The system handles 2,000 SMS per second and a maximum of 2,100 parallel voice calls.
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