In India, there are currently around 900 Mn mobile connections, with mobile phones penetration of 72% which is mainly due to the availability of inexpensive phones along with low cost of tariff plans. It is expected that the mobile sector will contribute about USD 400 Bn to the country’s GDP, and the prediction will probably come out to be true as mobile has become a very important part of one’s life due to easy access to mobile devices, regardless of them being used with or without Internet connectivity.
With this people have now started using a mobile for a variety of purposes other than just a mode of communication. Recently BBC Media Action in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has launched a program called “Ananya” which uses mobile as a means of communication to offer health services to people in the districts of Bihar.
Health services nowadays have become a major point of discussion in the country especially in regard to maternal and child care. The government has been working hard to ensure that these services reach all sections of the society regardless of their geography, but still there remains a gap. The Ananya program has been launched to fill this gap by counselling families to take advantage of government health services and adopt healthier behaviors. .
The program is aimed to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health in the state and is targeted towards an audience of 27 Mn women of child-bearing age through 200,000 community health workers.
All health workers either own a mobile phone or have access to one. A “Mobile Academy” training course has also been introduced to expand and refresh the health workers’ knowledge of 10 life-saving health behaviours and enhance their communication skills with an audio course being delivered via Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
There is also a multimedia service called “Mobile Kunji” which has been launched. It will be providing information about various health issues.
These services can be accessed from any handset.
Currently the service is only available in 8 districts of Bihar, but BBC Media Action plans to expand the services to more districts of the state and two other states i.e. Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
There is a lot of activity happening with regard to health-care services being launched beyond tier 2 cities and it is witnessing an uptake in rural areas, with the possibility of becoming more big in the time to come.
Recently Videocon Telecom had partnered with Think Health Services, a provider of mobile health and wellness related products and services to launch mHealth service for its users.
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