The simple mobile phone is being used to provide a range of health services in some districts of Bihar, especially in maternal and child care, an expert said here Saturday. The “Ananya” program, run by BBC Media Action in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in eight districts of Bihar, aims to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health in the state. Also Read - Union Budget 2021: Phones to get expensive in India as custom duty on some parts increased
The program is targeting an audience of 27 million women of child-bearing age through 200,000 community health workers. These health workers are responsible for counseling millions of families to take advantage of government health services and adopt healthier behavior. Also Read - 22-year-old man dies as mobile phone explodes while charging
“The real innovations are that these services can have a significant impact on people’s lives at an unprecedented scale, and the public-private partnership model that makes them affordable and sustainable,” said Sara Chamberlain of BBC Media Action, India.
All health workers either own or have access to a mobile phone, according to research by BBC Media Action. A “Mobile Academy” training course has been developed to expand and refresh the health workers’ knowledge of 10 life-saving health behaviors and enhance their communication skills.
The audio course is delivered via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) that can be accessed from any mobile handset. A multimedia service called “Mobile Kunji” (key or guide), which provides information on these health issues, has also been introduced.
Mobile Kunji and Academy are accessible from any mobile phone handset (no special software is required). The short codes and tariffs are common across six of the biggest mobile operators in India, responsible for 90 percent of the market in Bihar. BBC Media Action is also planning to expand the services to more districts of Bihar and two other states — Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.