News and stories

Lifesaving Maternal Transportation System, m-mama, Confirmed for Expansion to Kenya in 2023

Jul, 2023

m-mama is set to expand internationally again as Kenya is confirmed as the next country to establish the emergency transportation system. Following the exciting news of nationwide adoption in Tanzania and Lesotho last year, Kenya is now the third country in sub-Saharan Africa to implement the lifesaving program.


On a recent visit to Kenya, Administrator Power (United States Agency for International Development) announced an $18 million public-partnership with the Government of Kenya, Safaricom Plc, M-PESA Foundation and Vodafone Foundation to expand m-mama to the country.


Pregnancy and childbirth complications remain leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa; the maternal mortality ratio for the region is 26 times higher than that of North America. Having a baby in Kenya is particularly dangerous – more than 6,000 mothers die each year and the country has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in East Africa.


m-mama plays a crucial role in reducing these deaths by connecting women and babies to lifesaving care. Many women face long journeys to reach hospitals, placing them and their babies at great risk. m-mama reduces these delays in reaching care by establishing a network of trusted community drivers who transport patients to the care they need, when they need it most.


Since its launch in Tanzania and Lesotho, m-mama has helped more than 28,000 women and newborns reach vital services and has saved more than 900 lives. Administrator Power acknowledged the impact of m-mama last week, saying:


“I can think of no program or project that I have visited anywhere in the world… that is as exciting and as cost-effective as m-mama. It’s extraordinary.”


The expansion to Kenya will see m-mama support more than 100 million people across three countries. It is a significant opportunity to work in collaboration with local governments and partners to address one of the world’s biggest health challenges. Touch is proud to be a key implementing partner for m-mama. In the months and years ahead, we will work hand-in-hand with communities across Kenya to help save the lives of their mothers, sisters and daughters, and are excited about the current and future expansion of m-mama.


MediFIKIA: Touch Partners with Sanofi to Tackle Non-Communicable Diseases

May, 2023

At Touch, we are committed to tackling the most pressing health challenges in the communities we serve. Of these health challenges, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, pose a significant risk to the wellbeing of millions. In fact, 77% of all NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and in sub-Saharan Africa they are poised to overtake infectious diseases as major sources of mortality by 2030.


In light of these trends, Touch is partnering with Sanofi’s Global Health Unit to improve patient outcomes for those living with NCDs in Tanzania. Our new program, MediFIKIA (fikia meaning “reach” in Swahili) strengthens supply chains, improves the operations of hospital pharmacies, and ultimately ensures that rural patients can access medicines for NCDs when they need them most.


Building upon previous programs to improve diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic heart disease and high blood pressure (hypertension), this project furthers our vision of creating strong, resilient, well-resourced hospitals, and cements our long-term commitment to improving NCD care outcomes for vulnerable patients.


We are so excited to join Sanofi in developing this new program!


m-mama Reaches Major Milestone: 20,000+ Emergencies Transported

Apr, 2023

In March, Touch reached a major milestone: m-mama has provided more than 20,000 emergency transports for pregnant women across Tanzania and Lesotho! We are proud and humbled to share this achievement with our core partners: the Governments of Tanzania and Lesotho and the Vodafone Foundation. Together, we are bringing this ground-breaking solution to rural communities where women and newborns are most at risk and disconnection from the health system can be life-threatening. m-mama has proven to reduce maternal mortality by 27%.


Watch this video to learn about the impact of m-mama for pregnant women in Tanzania.


This achievement could not come at a more important time: in 2023, we are already hard at work to expand m-mama to every community in Tanzania. We thank and celebrate our implementing partners and we also extend our gratitude to the community drivers and local hospitals and clinics who are dedicated to ensuring safe labor and delivery for women and newborns.


Celebrating 3 Years of Healthy Heart Africa in Tanzania

Jul, 2021

In Tanzania, the Healthy Heart Africa program embeds hypertension screening and treatment into routine healthcare visits to ensure that pregnant women are screened and have access to the care needed to treat their conditions. By teaching healthcare workers how to identify hypertension and hypertensive disorders in their patients, and empowering them to manage their own health, the program also keeps healthcare workers healthy. Now, as we transition screening and monitoring to the local Government for long-term sustainability, we are celebrating the culmination of three years of program success.


Since 2018, Touch Foundation in partnership with the Healthy Heart Africa program, has worked with AstraZeneca and Bugando Medical Centre, along with 21 healthcare facilities in Tanzania, to improve hypertension screening and treatment to improve the health status of healthcare workers and pregnant women.


Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This disorder is especially dangerous to pregnant women and newborns and is responsible for 16% of maternal deaths worldwide.


In the last three years, the Healthy Heart Africa program in Tanzania has:

  • Trained 437 healthcare workers on hypertension management, and screened 931 healthcare workers for hypertension
  • Screened over 76,000 pregnant and postpartum women for hypertension
  • Diagnosed and/or referred for treatment 1,631 women with hypertension
  • Donated screening equipment such as stethoscopes, blood pressure machines, and scales
  • Continued life-saving screenings despite COVID-19 with the use of digital health technology (learn more here)

To ensure the program’s sustainability, we’ve worked closely with regional leadership and healthcare workers to ensure screening and hypertension management is maintained. Healthcare workers will continue to prioritize hypertension screening during health visits, and this practice will remain embedded in antenatal and postnatal care. We are incredibly grateful to all partners who contributed to this program’s success and to those who will ensure its enduring impact on maternal health.


Hypertension screening training for healthcare workers to ensure program sustainability

A Solution to Expand HIV/AIDS Services

Jun, 2021

Touch is committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS services across sub-Saharan Africa. Studies show that though the region contains 12% of the global population, it bears 71% of the global burden of HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa also faces a severe healthcare worker deficit. To stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to enable equitable access to care, healthcare workers must be allocated efficiently. We used our Prioritization and Optimization Analysis (POA) algorithm to help Data.Fi and USAID build a user-friendly tool that allocates healthcare workers providing HIV/AIDS services. POA supports USAID, the President’s Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the CDC in their work to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


To treat people with HIV/AIDS and stop the spread, healthcare workers—such as doctors, pharmacists, and community health workers—must be placed where they can most effectively serve those in need.


That’s why Touch collaborated with Data.Fi and USAID, using the algorithm from our POA tool, to create a Human Resources for Health Needs and Optimization Planning Solution. It helps our partners understand the existing need for healthcare workers and to assign them where they are needed most.


Achieving the United Nation’s goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is ambitious but attainable, requiring coordination and partnership across sectors and countries. Touch is proud of our ongoing partnership with USAID to set healthcare workers up for success, and glad to have worked with Data.Fi on this crucial Solution, which will improve lives for years to come.


Read more about the HRH Solution in Data.FI’s Solutions Brief here.

Meet the People Behind Hospital Equipment

Feb, 2021

We established our Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) program over 2 years ago with one of the largest hospitals in Tanzania and our oldest partner, Bugando Medical Centre (BMC). Since then, the program has been improving infrastructure and introducing new practices with BMC’s Engineering Department, so engineers are better able to serve the hospital. As the program continues to expand, we asked the staff about their work and how their experiences on the job has changed since HTM began.


A hospital’s ability to properly treat patients rests on the usability of its equipment, technology, and generator power. This is where the ever-critical engineers come in. Hospital engineers both fix and upkeep all hospital technology and equipment, spanning from defibrillators to oxygen plants. In doing so, they ensure that patients can get the procedures they need in a timely and safe manner.


We’re excited to introduce you to some members of the team!



The first face you see when walking in the door of BMC’s Engineering Department is Mary Fidelis’. She’s been working as a secretary there for 32 years. “[I] make sure that all the jobs in the Department are completed on time,” she explains. “So when the jobs are sealed, I [work to] make sure that the clients are also happy.”


The job tracking system introduced by the HTM program helps her manage work orders efficiently, giving full visibility and control of maintenance activities and ensuring faster turnaround on assignments, so clinicians do not have to wait very long for equipment to be ready to go. She also points to the new workshop (get a tour here!), saying that the more convenient working space has made “the environment [more] conducive and attractive.”



Next, pictured above is Emmanuel Silas, who’s been on the team for almost 4 years as a biomedical engineer. “Our aim is to save the [lives] of our patients, you know. So that’s why I chose to be a biomedical engineer.” His real passion is for upkeeping and fixing cancer treatment equipment. Testing the safety and performance of each machine, which he’s doing in the photo at the top of this news story, is key for making sure that equipment is ready to go.



Now, meet Nziza Rufuto¸ who’s been working as a biomedical technician at BMC for 4 years. “I like when I manage to work on something that becomes a help to someone who is in need,” she says, “when I manage to do that – that’s when I’m happy about my job.” With the HTM program’s introduction of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Nziza says that “you know exactly what you are doing, and you measure what you’re doing and you know where to improve…” Apart from tracking and identifying bottlenecks, KPIs motivate staff by making work more visible and opening space for further growth.

Nziza will be saying goodbye temporarily to the Department this year when she leaves to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering. Her plan is to return to BMC’s Engineering Department with enriched skills after completing her studies (learn more about Nziza’s here!).



Next up, Dianes Moses, also a biomedical technician. Dianes has played a critical role in implementing the Work in Progress room. This room is one of the new workshop’s core elements where the engineers’ work is organized and monitored with visual management boards like the ones in the picture. Like Nziza, she’s also pursuing her degree in Biomedical Engineering. We wish them all the best in their studies!



In the above photo, Senior Biomedical Technician, Everest Magoti, explains how the KPI board works. Magoti has been with the Department for over 20 years, specializing in maintaining ICU and operating theater equipment. When asked why he decided to pursue this career those many years ago, he said there were two reasons: “Of course, [the] first [was] to help the people and [the] second [was] to make long-living medical equipment.”



Finally, Jumanne Seleman, the head of Mechanical Section, has been with the Department as a mechanical technician for 15 years. A champion of KPIs and job tracking, Seleman and his team record and monitor the performance of BMC’s Oxygen plants, ensuring that minimum oxygen purity and pressure levels are maintained to efficiently serve the hospital.


Learn more about the HTM program here!