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.

Welcoming our Newly Appointed Executive Director

Feb, 2021

Touch Foundation is pleased to announce that Massimiliano Pezzoli has been appointed Touch Foundation’s Executive Director.


Massi has been with Touch for over 8 years and has effectively led our program efforts for most of that time. Under his program leadership, Touch has built an extraordinary program team and has successfully developed and implemented programs that have improved access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. He has played a major role in in both Touch’s geographic and programmatic expansion.


Celia Felsher, Touch’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said “We are very excited about Massi stepping into the position of Executive Director. Massi will now be responsible for all of the programmatic and operational functions at Touch, working with me and the Touch Board in leading our efforts to continue increasing our impact across sub-Saharan Africa.”


Before joining Touch, Massi was a Senior Manager at McKinsey & Co., where he spent four years serving major clients in the private health sector and in government and regulatory authorities across Europe, America, and the Middle East. Massi holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, an Executive MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management from the London School of Economics, and an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic of Milan.


Lowell Bryan, Touch’s Chairman of the Board, stated that “Massi has continually shown his commitment to Touch and our mission and we are looking forward to working with him in his new role.”