Babycenter launches digital info service in South Africa – for mothers only

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Babycenter, a US based corporation, with funding also from multinational Johnson & Johnson, has announced the launch of a new information service for mothers in South Africa: Momconnect.

But, as reported already on Family Included, we know from research on digital health services that they are most effective when they aim to connect people in families and communities with each other, rather than just be an exchange between a provider and mothers.

“Mobile technologies offer the opportunity to support families directly in managing their own health, while linking their self-management efforts to healthcare providers and other resources.” (Rotheram-Borus et al. 2012).

We have already asked Babycenter to consider being family inclusive in a service they have launched in USA, because it would bring better health outcomes, and we now extend the same invitation to their work in South Africa.

Commercial services are highly interested to develop a customer base among women. They are financed by advertising money and advertisers currently regard mothers as a better market than fathers. This explains the focus of Babycenter and Johnson & Johnson on mothers, both in USA and wherever they are investing in emerging markets.

In the longer-term, changes in advertising will drive change in the corporations. The swing has already started in USA, as evidenced by the advertising around the 2015 Super Bowl, so strong it was named “dadvertising”. This trend will spread globally in time. With it will come more money than has ever before been available for family inclusive information services.

We hope that, through the efforts of Family Included, we can successfully campaign for the introduction of family inclusive pregnancy and birth digital information services long before these very slow commercial changes take shape. We believe they will be better for health and wellbeing of mothers.


Photo: Dasha Bondareva. Creative Commons.