Case Study Hero: Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)

Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA)

Inspiring better health by text for millions of women in low-resource settings

  • Created core set of SMS messages for pregnant women and new mothers to support, engage and educate
  • Published research showed the messages results in significant changes in key health behaviours
  • Messages now used by more than 160 organisations in over 50 countries and translated into 24 languages


The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) was a $10mproject that harnessed the power of mobile technology to deliver vital health information to new and expectant mothers.

The project was a collaboration between the USAID and Johnson & Johnson, with support from the United Nations Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter LLC.

As experts in mobile messaging and behaviour change, Thrive was challenged to lead on content strategy and production…


We created a core set of SMS messages that could be adapted for use anywhere in the world. As part of the brief, we also produced location-specific programmes for India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Here’s how we did it:

  • We researched the health needs of women and children in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs).
  • We recruited a team of global experts who worked alongside the Thrive team to identify the most important topics to include, including antenatal care, nutrition and breastfeeding.
  • We embedded key information in 5,000 SMS messages, each limited to 140 characters, and packed them with relatable age and stage-based advice to foster trust and drive behaviour change.
  • We ran training courses for local NGOs to give them the skills to adapt MAMA messages without losing the nuances of the behaviour change messaging.


The MAMA messages are used by more than 160 organisations in more than 54 countries around the world. Many studies have pointed to the effectiveness of the programme, including research by the Health Alliance Foundation in Timor-Leste, which found that women who received our messages were:

  • twice as likely to use a skilled birth attendant and have their baby in a health clinic
  • five times as likely to have a postpartum care visit within two days of delivery
  • five times as likely to have their newborn’s health checked within two days of birth

In South Africa, an Impact study also found: “A statistically significant increase in average number of ANC [antenatal care] visits attended… along with an increased likelihood of attending at least four ANC visits, and improved birth outcomes for pregnant women and newborns.”

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