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Harnessing Mobile Phone Technology To Improve Maternal and Child Health “Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action” Partnership Established

Secretary Clinton Announces MAMA
Secretary Clinton Announces the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA). State Department photo by Michael Gross

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new partnership, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), which will harness the power of mobile technology to deliver vital health information to new and expectant mothers.

The partnership leverages the collective resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Johnson & Johnson, with support from the United Nations Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter LLC. The partnership was developed in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of State.

Mobile health messages are able to quickly and easily disseminate information that will inform women of ways to care for themselves during pregnancy, dispel myths and misconceptions, highlight warning signs, connect women with local health services, reinforce breast feeding practices, explain the benefits of family planning, and make new mothers aware of how best to care for their babies.

Over the next three years, the partnership, which is expected to mobilize $10 million, will work across an initial set of three countries — Bangladesh, India, and South Africa — to help coordinate and increase the impact of existing mobile health programs, provide resources and technical assistance to promising new business models, and build the evidence base on the effective application of mobile technology to improve maternal health. Lessons learned from these and other initiatives will be shared globally in a coordinated exchange of information. The partnership will foster collaboration among similar initiatives in other countries to accelerate efforts to reach millions of women with mobile phone access around the world.

“If we are going to improve public health across the developing world, our solutions must be focused on reaching the hard to reach with health information they otherwise would not receive,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah. “This partnership will harness the power of mobile technology to provide mothers with information about pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of life, empowering these women to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.”

“Better health for communities starts with better health for expectant and new moms. This public-private partnership adds another way we are extending our commitment to moms everywhere,” says Bill Weldon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “It’s part of fulfilling our commitment to the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy to advance the Millennium Development Goals.”

“Instead of imagining a world where the health of mothers benefits from mobile phones, we are answering the call today to make it happen,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation and member of the Partnership Board of the mHealth Alliance. “This new initiative will take the vision that world leaders and the UN Secretary-General announced last year and turn it into action.”

“This is an exciting approach to using technological innovation to address development challenges,” said United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. “The growing global network of mobile health information programs will deepen our understanding of how best to use mobile phones as a tool to improve women’s and children’s health.”

Each institution will play a unique role in this partnership. Founding partners, USAID and Johnson & Johnson, will provide funding and strategic leadership. Supporting partners, including the UN Foundation, mHealth Alliance, and BabyCenter LLC, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, will provide expertise, tools, resources, and a forum to exchange knowledge and share best practices to support the research and extend the reach of promising initiatives.

The partnership supports President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development, his Global Health Initiative and the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

For more information on the partnership please visit www.mobilemamaalliance.org.


Multilateral Newsletter: Volume 3 – September 17, 2010

Friends and Colleagues:

The 64th session of the UN General Assembly has come and gone, and the 65th is already gathering momentum heading into high-level activities anticipated for the next two weeks. As we prepare for the new Assembly, I thought I would take just a moment to share with you some thoughts about the last year, and in that context describe our priorities for the upcoming General Assembly and beyond.

This week I returned to my former professional home, John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, to speak on just these issues. In my remarks, I noted that the past 18 months have seen a dramatic repositioning of the United States internationally – one that has both strengthened our security through concrete actions, and in many ways has provided new vitality to the multilateral system.

That fact notwithstanding, I regret that people are not always entirely aware of the scope and scale of the UN’s role in the promotion of global peace and security, development, health, and a host of other issues – a point I highlighted during a Blair House event this week with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

At the end of the day, we engage because multilateral diplomacy can unlock progress on a host of transnational and global issues. We engage because international organizations, including the United Nations and regional organizations like the Organization of American States and the African Union, offer unique opportunities to advance U.S. interests and, concurrently, global aspirations.

Making that case becomes easier in the context of the remarkable actions taken by the President in multilateral fora.

He has put nonproliferation back at the top of global agenda, and has pledged American leadership in support of a world free of nuclear weapons;
He has reasserted U.S. leadership in support of universal human rights, including by seeking and winning election to the UN Human Rights Council;
He has energized U.S. leadership on environmental issues including climate change; and,
He has called the Millennium Development Goals “America’s Goals,” and has committed expanded U.S. development support toward the full realization of the Goals by 2015.
These actions and many others represent a fundamental shift in the U.S. approach to our many shared challenges, at the root of which is the understanding that as people, as states, as regions, we grow more interconnected and inseparable with each passing day.

So as we prepare for the new General Assembly, we do so in the context of actions already taken and in anticipation of extending and deepening our engagement, particularly in the following areas:

making progress on the Millennium Development Goals and on other development priorities;
improving the UN’s tools related to peace and security, including peacekeeping operations and sanctions;
promoting human rights; and
tackling environmental challenges including climate change.
The MDGs will be a recurring theme next week, keyed to the High-Level MDG Plenary Meeting. This will be an important opportunity for the United States to elaborate the President’s development agenda, as well as the U.S. MDG strategy, which centers on the core principles of leveraging innovation, investing in sustainability, tracking development outcomes, and enhancing mutual accountability. In fact, the President himself will address the MDG Plenary Meeting on Wednesday, September 22nd.

Next week will feature several other important events and gatherings, a few of which I will mention here. On September 19th, the Secretary will participate in a senior-level gathering to discuss the ongoing international flood relief efforts in Pakistan. This is a follow-up meeting to a similar gathering held in August to encourage and coordinate the international response to this devastating natural disaster.

On Monday September 20th, the Secretary will participate in the Special Session of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Bellerive and former President Clinton and focus on ensuring continued global engagement in Haiti’s reconstruction.

Other headline events during these next few days include a special side-event to the MDG meeting co-hosted by Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin and featuring leaders from governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. This event, entitled 1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future, will highlight action to reduce child undernutrition, focusing on the 1,000 day window of opportunity beginning with a woman’s pregnancy and continuing until a child is two years old.

Obviously, a focal point during the week will be President Obama’s address to the General Assembly, slated for the morning of September 23.

Finally, I wanted to make a special point of welcoming the Secretary-General’s announcement of Michele Bachelet, former president of Chile, as the new Under-Secretary-General to head UN Women. I join Secretary Clinton and the Administration in congratulating her on her appointment. She is an extraordinary choice to lead this new organization, and we are confident that she will work tirelessly to elevate the status of women and girls across the globe.

Once again, my sincerest appreciation to all for your interest in and commitment to multilateral engagement and foreign affairs. If you have yet to register for our IO updates, I invite you to do so, and as always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

With Highest Regards,

Esther Brimmer


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