BBC Media Action's mHealth Services Model Takes Life-Saving Info to Millions of People across India
February 28, 2013
, TMCnet Contributor
In India, BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity, claimed that its new public-private business model for mobile health (mHealth) services is capable of reaching out to millions of the nation’s poorest people with life-saving information on maternal and child health.
mHealth is being used more to make India’s primary health centers (PHCs) and sub-centers hi-tech as the health ministry and the government increase broadband penetration and provision financial inclusion in hopes to empower rural India.
The services are stated to be available in Bihar, India, at the same low rates as main operators.
Sara Chamberlain, head of ICT in India for the BBC's international development charity, commented in a statement, “In Bihar, almost all 15-49 year olds have access to a mobile phone. We struck a deal with the mobile industry and state government to develop mHealth services that are priced for the bottom of the pyramid, and can be used from any handset by making a simple phone call. That's how we have been able to get around the challenge of low literacy and limited technical ability, and go quickly to scale.”
Chamberlain added, “The government wants to help improve the health of mothers and their babies, and the mobile operators want to see a return on their investment. With close to one hundred thousand unique users accessing millions of minutes of audio content, they're already achieving that and this helps secure sustainability for the services.”
Realizing the importance of a community health worker to maternal health and bringing down infant mortality rate, an innovative job aid called “Mobile Kunji” was launched in Bihar under the partnership forged between the Bihar government, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and BBC Media Action India.
Another service, “Mobile Academy,” let Bihar’s 200,000 community health workers access more than two million minutes of content. Both services use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to make audio content available to even the most basic handsets.
The Gates Foundation is covering the cost of calls to the Toll Free Mobile Kunji service for the first year, with the state government pledging to pick up the tab from mid-2013. BBC Media Action is also planning to expand its services to other northern states in India.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey