In line with the Government’s Digital India programme, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched four m-health initiatives to make health services cost effective and health systems more robust. These include four mobile health (mHealth) services – Kilkari, Mobile Academy, M-Cessation and TB Missed Call initiative
Highlighting the importance of such initiatives, Shri J P Nadda, further added, “These four mobile health services will be a game changer in health communications. I am confident that these initiatives will bring us closer to people who need our services the most.” He further stated that in keeping with the vision of the Prime Minister for a Digital India based on harnessing technology for the benefit of people, the OPD registration at AIIMS, New Delhi has been made online which has resulted in cutting down waiting time of a large section of people from about six hours to nearly one hour.
Kilkari, which means ‘a baby’s gurgle’, delivers free, weekly, time-appropriate 72 audio messages about pregnancy, child birth and child care directly to families’ mobile phones from the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is one year old. Kilakri is being launched in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and High Priority Districts (HPDs) of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the first phase.
Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed to expand and refresh the knowledge base of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and improve their communication skills. Mobile Academy offers ASHAs a training opportunity via their mobile phones which is both cost-effective and efficient. It reduces the need to travel – sometimes great distances – and provides them the flexibility they need to learn at their own pace and at times they find convenient. Mobile Academy is being launched in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Together, these services aim to improve family health – including family planning, reproductive, maternal and child health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene – by generating demand for healthy practices by empowerment and capacity building at the individual and community level, and by creating an enabling environment.
M-Cessation aims at reaching out to those willing to quit tobacco use and support them towards successful quitting through text messages sent via mobile phones. When offered along with traditional services, M-Cessation has been found to be cost-effective in comparison to traditional options for cessation support. This is first time in the world that such a two way service is being provided as part of any mHealth initiative.
Under TB Missed Call initiative, a helpline with a toll free number will provide information, counselling and treatment support services for TB. Under this campaign the callers can give a missed call or call for free to get information related to TB symptoms, treatment services available, address and contact details of the nearest treatment facility etc. Initially the service will be available to people in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.
The Health Minister appreciated the efforts of Gates Foundation, UNICEF, USAID and other development partners in complimenting the efforts of the Government and invited suggestions from the stakeholders to strengthen the programme further.
Also present during the meeting were Dr Jagdish Prasad, DGHS, Shri C K Mishra, AS &MD (NHM), Shri Anshu Prakash, Joint Secretary, Shri Manoj Jhalani, Joint Secretary, and Shri Rahul Mullick, Chief Technology Officer, Gates Foundation.