The original article was published on htxt.Africa on 19 July 2016. Written by Brendyn Lotz. To read complete article, click here.

© UNICEF/UN025402/Bisin

The Praekelt Foundation has announced that the Department of Health’s MomConnect service will be making its way to Facebook as a Messenger bot.

MomConnect is an SMS and USSD service which provides mothers and others with essential information regarding pregnancy and HIV. The service was launched in 2014 and is used by 850 000 South Africans.

Praekelt Foundation’s choice to add a bot on Facebook should help to make the service even more accessible to South Africans.

“Our goal is to to be relevant with the latest technologies,” Praekelt general manager, Debbie Rogers says. “We wanted to move to data-based access in various ways for a long time and we could have done a mobisite but we liked the engagement with users that MomConnect offers. A Messenger bot let’s us keep that level of engagement with users.”

The MomConnect bot will add a number of new messages that will be fed to the relevant users. Among these are a number of messages that aim to support mothers who are HIV positive.

“Mother to child transmission is a real problem. Many women only find out that they are HIV-positive when they visit a clinic and they lack access to the resources they need to keep them, and their unborn child safe,” Rogers said in an interview with

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