MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — May May App is a mobile application that offers medical information to pregnant women in Myanmar. Development of the app was a collaboration between Ooredoo, an international telecommunications company, Koe Koe Tech, a Myanmar-based technology startup, and global health organization Population Services International.
There is certainly room to improve maternal health in Myanmar. Maternal mortality rates among Burmese women are among the worst in Southeast Asia. The latest data states that 205 women die per every 100,000 live births. As of 2010, only 70.6 percent of births were attended by a skilled professional, and 83.1 percent of pregnant women were receiving prenatal care.
Friends and family have traditionally been the main source of maternal health in Myanmar. This has resulted in numerous myths surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, sometimes with drastic results. With May May, pregnant women and their families have access to accurate, medically sound information that will help them have healthier pregnancies.
When Ooredoo introduced May May in September 2014, 90 percent of the population had never owned a mobile phone. The company was one of two non-state controlled telecommunications companies that were granted contracts to install cellular networks in Myanmar.
Ooredoo’s strategy was to immediately offer a 3G network, passing over the option of 2G in hopes that consumers would find value in smartphones. The creation of the May May app helped fill a void in mobile content pertaining to Myanmar and its citizens.
As of June of this year, the May May app had been downloaded over 30,000 times, and has 1500 monthly telemedicine consultations.
May May allows the user to enter personal information so the advice can be tailored specifically for the timing of their pregnancy. Three weekly notifications are sent in the form of alerts. The user then clicks on the notification to open the app and read the message in its entirety. The messages are comprised of advice created by the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action and translated into Burmese by PSI.
In addition to helpful tips, May May also includes a doctor locator service, using the GPS position of the user and a database of Burmese doctors. Google Maps displays the results in the form of pins and the user can click on a pin to learn more about that doctor and/or clinic.
On October 12, the United States Agency for International Development’s U.S. Global Development Lab announced that Koe Koe Tech will be receiving grant money to further develop the app and study its effect on maternal mortality rates, infant mortality rates, and early childhood malnutrition.
The grant money is funded by the Development Innovation Ventures program, an open innovation fund that sources, tests, and scales breakthrough ideas that address global development challenges.
Finally, users of the May May app can order medicine and other health products such as contraceptives to be delivered to their homes by rural PSI agents. These products will be less expensive and of higher quality than what is normally available in rural areas. Maternal health in Myanmar will doubtlessly be improving in the near future.
– Kate Tilton