PHONE SAKHI IN RURAL INDIA

The Problem


In rural India, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is 619 per 100,000. Foe every mother who dies, 20 others suffer pregnancy related illness. One million neonates die annually. Sources estimate that 50-70% of child deaths and a significant proportion of all maternal deaths are preventable. A contributing factor to these unecessary deaths is the lack of access to basic education on health promotion, disease prevention, birth preparedness and complication readiness during antenatal, postnatal and infancy periods.

Presently, health information is disseminated by trained Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA). Unortunately there are 74,000 fewer ASHAs than needed.

In order for behaviour change communication (BCC) to be effective, it must be timed and targeted to reach the right people at the right time. Counseling can lead to behavior change only when the information is specific to the month of prenancy or childhood, culturally specific and reinforced by repitition in order for the beneficiary to fully accept the message.

The commendable mobile phone penetration in India provides a strategic opportunity to provide BCC through voice messaging and /or animation. A timed and targeted voice call in the local dialect takes information to the women in their local dialect at the  specific time they need it, in a gender sensitive manner. This will facilitate the behavor change necessary to assist the ASHA workerin looking after maetrnal and neonatal health status of the village more efficiently. 


THE SOLUTION


Phone sakhi Voice and Animation is a free mobile service in rural India that provides culturally appropriate comprehensive information on preventive care and simple interventions to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbdity. The voice calls are in the local dialect, specific to the woman's gestational age or the age of the child and are sent weekly/twice a week free of cost directly to pregnant women and mothers with children.

Where we have community partners, one mobile phone ( that has animations coded into them) is also provided to one elected, trained, trusted, female leader of each villages's local self -help group (called Arogya sakhi) who ensures that all enrolled women are shown the animations once a month.