Nurturing the Future: AI-Human Partnership Transforms Maternal Healthcare in Vietnam
Ngoc Nguyen, founder of Momby talks about how Momby, a virtual assistant born from a mother’s IT expertise, redefines maternal healthcare. Momby is part of Villgro Philippines’ AI4Health Asia accelerator program.
In the heart of bustling Ho Chi Minh City, a narrative of innovation and compassion unfolds, rewriting the script of maternal healthcare. This narrative belongs to the unsung heroes, mothers like you and me, who understand the challenges of nurturing life. It is a tale of hope and transformation, driven by the extraordinary synergy of artificial intelligence and human compassion.
Let us embark on a journey, through the lens of another mother, Linh. Linh, like so many mothers, found herself navigating the labyrinth of childcare, her path often obscured by well-intentioned but outdated advice passed down from her grandparents. Their traditional wisdom, while rooted in love, sometimes contradicted the latest scientific insights, leaving Linh feeling bewildered.
“I was overwhelmed by the well-meaning advice from my grandparents,” Linh recalls, her voice tinged with the stresses of parenthood. “Their guidance was based on their experiences, but it didn’t always align with modern healthcare recommendations.”
Linh’s experience reflects the common challenge faced by mothers — discerning between traditional practices and evidence-based care, a challenge exacerbated by the complexities of parenting in a digital age.
But there is another challenge that looms over parents like Linh. In this age of information overload, the internet has become a double-edged sword. While it offers a wealth of parenting advice, it is often a daunting task to sift through the myriad of sources, many of which are driven by marketing interests or lack certification. This information maze can leave parents feeling lost, and unsure of which advice to trust. Additionally, the demands of daily childcare issues make it impractical and costly to visit doctors for every concern.
Together, these challenges underscore the need for a solution that offers reliable, convenient, and cost-effective guidance for parents like Linh, precisely where the AI-human partnership in maternal healthcare steps in.
With approximately 479 million mobile internet users in Southeast Asia in 2021, and the numbers projected to reach 551 million by 2025, the stage is set for digital solutions to reach those who have traditionally struggled to access essential pre and post-natal care. These digital innovations hold the key to addressing issues like child undernutrition, which affects not only physical growth and cognitive development but also the broader human, social, and economic landscape.
Momby: The virtual assistant for parents
Enter Momby, a digital savior, developed not by a tech giant, but by a mother with an IT background. Supported by compassionate minds and innovative hearts, Momby is a virtual assistant that extends a lifeline to mothers like Linh, offering guidance on nutrition, fetal development, newborn care, breastfeeding, and beyond. It is not just an app; it’s a confidant, an advisor, and a virtual assistant for maternal health.
Through Momby, mothers can schedule obstetrician appointments, receive real-time answers to their questions, and access a wealth of information. But Momby’s wisdom is not confined to mothers alone; it acknowledges that child nutrition is a collective responsibility, and thus, it offers a version tailored for fathers.
Momby does not seek to replace healthcare professionals; rather, it complements their work. Momby exemplifies an AI-human partnership that seamlessly blends cutting-edge technology with human empathy. While AI provides instant information and support, a team of expert obstetricians and pediatricians stands ready to assist with complex questions. This combination offers personalized, caring guidance to mothers, nurturing their emotional well-being alongside ensuring technical expertise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly illuminated gaps in access to healthcare services, with social distancing measures limiting mothers’ ability to visit healthcare facilities. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated shortage of 18 million health workers is anticipated worldwide by 2030, and at least 400 million people globally lack access to the most essential health services. In this context, Momby emerges as a vital support for health experts.
Momby’s AI has evolved through learning from over 10,000 health scenarios initially built by health experts. It continues to grow in intelligence through ongoing conversations with users and constant training by health professionals. With each interaction, it becomes more capable of addressing a wider array of questions from parents, providing invaluable assistance in an era where accessible healthcare information and guidance are more crucial than ever.
A Vision Beyond Borders
Today, Momby has more than 40,000 users in Vietnam, spending an average of 20 minutes daily on the app. It’s not just a source of information; it’s a companion through the trials and joys of motherhood. Beyond the realm of nutrition and childcare, Momby extends its guidance to well-being, depression, and anxiety management.
As we delve into the narrative of Momby, its founder Ngoc Nguyen, and mothers like Linh, we are immersed in a world where technology meets compassion. It is a world where AI and human hearts work in harmony to nurture the future. This is a testament to the boundless potential of an AI-human partnership in reshaping maternal healthcare, a journey towards a brighter and healthier future for our children.
Momby is part of a dynamic cohort of the AI4Health Asia accelerator spread across Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. AI4health Asia is a 10-month accelerator program designed to promote and nurture innovations in Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) in South and Southeast Asia.
Learn more about the program here: villgrophilippines.org/ai4health/
- This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.