As part of the Maternal Health Service on Mobile (MHSM) project implemented by Datamation Foundation Trust in India, Microsoft India partnered with OneWorld South Asia (OWSA) to develop an SMS toolkit that would allow pregnant and lactating women to send and receive SMSs from a computer or laptop cost-effectively. The localized SMSs are in Hindi and contain information related to maternal and child health.
Due to several factors such as the lack of awareness about mother and child care practices, India has one of the world’s worst infant and maternal mortality rates. This has led to the initiative to deliver health information through mobile technology, which is available to most of the Indian communities.
The project commenced in two districts of Northern Indian state Uttar Pradesh and has benefitted more than 1000 pregnant and lactating women. Through an extensive community mobilization drive, women were registered for the MHSM service manually on the Content Management System (CMS), along with details such as the month of pregnancy or pregnancy complications. Thereafter, they would receive at least two customized messages every week, which provides them with medical advice and reminders on pre-natal care or post-natal care.
“The SMSs gave me useful tips such as the various vaccinations I need during the course of my pregnancy. I took all the advice seriously and managed to deliver a very healthy baby,” said Bilja, a 23 year-old beneficiary.
The health information provided by the service allowed the families of the targeted women to be in a better position to take care of the beneficiaries. An added benefit was that the health workers and officials who were part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scheme were able to provide relevant, timely and customized health information, allowing them to monitor the beneficiaries more effectively.
“Prior to using this service, I felt very weak during my pregnancy. After my husband encouraged me to monitor the diet chart sent via the SMS alerts, I started to eat iron-rich food. Now, I feel more energetic and healthy,” said Mamta Devi, 29 years.
Following this pilot experience in India, the best practices from the project may be used to develop other projects in areas and countries, where high maternal mortality rates prevail.
“The SMSs gave me lots of useful tips such as the various vaccinations I need during the course of my pregnancy. I took all the advice seriously and managed to deliver a very healthy baby.”
– Bilja, Beneficiary