Babies’ road to health starts from the digital belly

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Babies’ road to health starts from the digital belly

The department of health is set to launch an app that digitises a baby’s developments and health records

Journalist


Losing a clinic card is probably one of the least pleasant parenting experiences.
Not only does the Road to Health booklet keep important information about your child’s milestones, but losing it will mean difficulties in registering a child’s birth or obtaining an identity card.
Losing the card could soon belong to the past with the introduction of a Road to Health app by the department of health.
The app, developed for the department by Jembi Health Systems in Cape Town, is set to digitise your baby’s developments and health records.
Popo Maja, spokesperson for health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, said the app was downloadable for Android devices and would give parents and caregivers easy access to the information in the new Road to Health booklet, including personalised reminders about immunisations.
This also includes caregivers of children who have the old Road to Health booklet.Maja said the app is also linked to MomConnect, a departmental initiative that provides pregnant women and new mothers with antenatal and postnatal information via SMS.While the app is used for record-keeping purposes and has the potential to function as a health record, Maja said it was not yet an official health record and had not replaced the immunisation booklet.
Zimkhitha Phala, a Cape Town mother of three, knows from painful personal experience how frustrating it is to lose every bit of information about a child’s birth.
She lost her son’s clinic card when he was six months old, and because he had his initial inoculations in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, Cape Town facilities could not trace any records.
“In Cape Town they issued me with a new clinic card, but that didn’t have any information about his birth weight, height or immunisations in the first three months of immunisation, as everything was written on paper and I would have to travel to the Eastern Cape to have that information again,” she said.
“Going paperless would be easy for me. When every information is digitalised there is no worry about water damage to the book or losing it.
“I like the idea of knowing that you can always recover information, as schools are very strict when it comes to clinic cards. They insist on it.”
Maja said the new app was part of the Side by Side campaign, which is aimed at “ensuring that all children under five years of age receive the nurturing care they need to develop to their full potential”.
Parents on the MomConnect database would have their information channelled via the app instead of by SMS, he said.
“Once they have delivered they can choose to receive the postnatal messages by SMS or through the app.
“We will encourage moms to use the app as it is more cost-effective for the department, but moms who do not have a smartphone will continue to receive their messages via SMS,” he said.

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