World Prematurity Day 2016 and MomConnect Anniversary

Thursday, November 17, 2016
Remarks at MomConnect celebration by Acting Mission Director Rebecca Krzywda
MomConnect Anniversary 2016
From L to R: SACSoWACH Patron - Dr. Tshepo Motsepe; Minister of Health SA - Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi; USAID Acting Mission Director - Rebecca Krzywda and MomConnect Ambassador, Ms. Tshepiso Makwetla


Remarks at MomConnect celebration

Acting Mission Director Rebecca Krzywda

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Honorable Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,

David Hervé LUDOVIC DE LYS, Unicef Country Representative,

Ms. Tshepiso Makwetla, Mom Connect Ambassador,

Dr. Tshepo Motsepe, SACSoWach patron,

Youth Leaders,

Mothers and Mothers-to-be,

Development Partners,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning.

I’ll begin by thanking Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and his team at the Department of Health for inviting me to give a message of support on behalf of USAID and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; better known to most of you as PEPFAR. It is an honor for me to join you today to mark World Prematurity Day.  Maternal and child health is a significant focus of the U.S. government throughout Southern Africa.  USAID works closely with many South African partners on maternal and child HIV prevention and care and treatment programs, with a strong emphasis on reducing mother to child transmission, and safeguarding orphans and vulnerable children.

The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has to date invested more than $4.9 million towards MomConnect – an initiative whose aim is to use mobile phone technology to mobilize and educate mothers and mothers-to-be in order to prevent maternal mortality. I am sure Minister Motsoaledi will expand on this in his address, but for us the initiative has surpassed all initial expectations, reaching one million subscribers and being active in more than 95 percent of all health facilities across South Africa. I would like to congratulate the MomConnect team within the Department of Health for their tireless work that has led to the success of our partnership, and the success of this initiative. Since its launch, MomConnect has also, through its helpdesk which is supported by UNICEF, answered more than 180,000 questions. The impact of empowering women, and more specifically mothers and mothers-to-be, across South Africa by enabling them to access vital health care services via something as simple as a text message should never be underestimated.

We are – with every text message sent – irrevocably changing the lives of mothers and pregnant women for the better.  And mothers are playing their part too, through their feedback, enabling us to improve and strengthen the South African health system.  To the moms – your voice is being heard. This is truly a demonstration of the power of collaboration, not only between the many partners that have come together to make this program a reality, but also of moms who are subscribing to the service on a daily basis. I think that you can all agree with me when I say MomConnect is here to help.  For those mothers-to-be that have yet to sign up – do so today.  It’s simple, it’s free and it enables you to be a part of the family of MomConnect.

I believe it was Minister Motsoaledi who said at the program launch that it was his dream to register all pregnant women in the country and help them have the healthiest possible pregnancy.  I am proud to say, as a mother, that it is my dream too that this becomes a reality in the not too-distant future. Another dream I have that I believe Minister Motsoaledi and his team share with the U.S. government, is that of an AIDS-free and a TB-free generation in the not too-distant future. South Africa has made tremendous progress in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and we are proud to work together, through PEPFAR and in partnership with the South African government and other partners, to continue this progress. With support from the American people, the South African government provides more than three million South Africans with antiretroviral treatment; saving millions of lives, keeping families together, and increasing South Africa’s economic productivity. South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment program in the world, an accomplishment which speaks for itself. We encourage South Africans to test regularly for HIV, and, if HIV positive, to receive the highest quality of care and treatment services, without facing stigma or discrimination,  and to adhere to that treatment in order to reach  viral suppression.  By doing so, we will help those on treatment live longer, healthier lives.

It is great to see so many young people and young leaders here today.  It is always encouraging to see young South Africans interested in their health, because it means they are interested in their futures.  It also means that young people are interested in what their leaders have to say about important developments that impact the lives of young people.

I thank you – and hope you enjoy the rest of the celebrations!

Kgabo Community Health Center in Winterveldt, Pretoria