Using mobile to distribute vital health education

IMIconnect-powered mHealth services rolled out in north-west India.

Written by Alex KloseApril 13th 2017

This weekend saw the further roll-out of two key grass-roots mHealth services in India, Kilkari and Mobile Academy, this time to the north-western state of Himachal Pradesh.

Kilkari and Mobile Academy were launched in January 2016 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Harnessing the power of mobile technology, they provide free education around reproductive and child health and, once fully deployed, will reach nearly 10 million families and one million community health workers in rural areas throughout the country who could otherwise have limited access to life-saving health information.

Powering these services, which were designed by BBC Media Action and launched by the Government of India, is IMImobile’s communication technology platform, IMIconnect.

Mobile Academy is an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) mobile training course on reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health for community health workers, which will expand their knowledge of life-saving preventative healthcare and enhance their capacity to engage effectively with families. Front-line workers can access the pre-recorded audio course material from any phone and complete it at their convenience.

On the other hand, Kilkari (which indicates a baby’s gurgle in Hindi) is targeted directly at families. The voice-based service delivers time-sensitive audio messages about maternal and child health to the mobile phones of pregnant wives, their husbands, and young children from the second trimester of pregnancy to the child’s first birthday. The service is free to the end user, with call costs covered by the Indian government.

The IVR technology supported by IMIconnect is the best choice for rural environments where mobile phones tend to be more basic (either feature or “brick” phones), but has another advantage in that it can convey information easily and instantly in areas where illiteracy is higher. In addition, the fully managed service and cloud-based platform solution offered by IMImobile is well placed to support deployments at this kind of scale.

These services will educate families about simple steps that new and expectant mothers can take to improve their health, and the health of their children, all through the power of voice services on mobile. As Jay Patel, CEO of IMImobile, explains, this project “highlights how the use of mobile engagement technologies can make a huge difference to people’s lives”.

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