Safe abortion closer for South African women: the countdown to launch

Safe abortion closer for South African womenOnly a few days away from officially launching our mHealth tool in South Africa, we could not be more pleased with the progress we have made. Countdown with us!

FIVE: Focus Group Testing!
This past week we conducted our first round of focus group testing. Our SMS platform was used in real-time by real people, which included a group of individuals in Cape Town, two different young women’s clubs in Centurion and Johannesburg, and a group of WITS University students and personnel. We received candid and valuable feedback about the utility of our SMS platform, which included the following comments: “using the tool feels secure and private,” participants would use the tool themselves or would recommend it to friends and family members, the SMS messages should include “as much information as possible about what a woman can expect when she arrives at the clinic,” and we were told that the code words an individual sends in order to begin the SMS interaction sparks feelings of “empowerment, autonomy, and responsibility.” Participants posed thought-provoking questions to our team and offered valuable insight into how our tool will be utilized in real-life. Some of those questions included whether or not we had considered using other local languages – and the answer is yes! They were also interested in finding out if we had planned for pushback from anti-abortion folks, and about what system we had in place for eventual technical difficulties faced by users. Ever since, we have been busy incorporating their suggestions into our tool and thinking about the answers to their questions so that we can continue to do better and better.

FOUR: Brand Creation!
A new mHealth brand is being created for all of our mobile health work in South Africa. Since our mHealth project is a specific product sponsored by safe2choose, we want it to stand-out and be recognizable across South Africa. We want for our tool to become a household name – to be in the cellphone of every South African. That’s why we’ve started working with a local creative agency from Johannesburg, which is busy creating our identity, logo, social media strategy and press releases. Keep an eye out for all of it, so that you can “Like” and “Follow” us as we grow!

THREE: Clinic Visits!
In order to ensure that we are only referring women to service providers that have been fully vetted, we will keep roll-out limited to the Gauteng Province to begin. We want women to access safe, legal, and high-quality providers. To ensure high-quality, our staff on the ground in Johannesburg is visiting each clinic in-person. This is a more time-consuming vetting process, but ensures that our tool maintains its integrity. We have the capacity to verify the clinics in the Gauteng Province by the launch date, and will quickly incorporate other provinces as we are able, following launch.

TWO: Advertise!
The final step will be to implement our launch plan which includes advertising our mHealth tool through social media and on the ground, via posters around university and college campuses, near health centres and the mobilization of our grassroots organization partners. Once its launched, you can help us spread the word by sharing our social media posts and having conversations about our tool with your friends and family in South Africa.

ONE: Launch!
We cannot wait for our tool to go live and to begin making a difference in the knowledge women have about their rights and in how they can access safe and legal abortion care in South Africa, whenever needed.

Hilary Towle- 27 January 2017