“You need a medium to tell people. When I show pictures and video, a client understands the information so much better. Mere verbal information does not have credibility and authority.” These words are not lifted from one of my recent sales pitches to potential clients. Rather, they were said by a community health worker named Sunita in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. Sunita now uses a phone app to facilitate her work from house to house among pregnant and nursing women.
Uttar Pradesh currently has some of the worst maternal and newborn mortality rates in all of India. When the government launched their ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) program in 2005, the goal was to place one such community health worker in every village in the country in order to reduce maternal and newborn deaths associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Today, with nearly 900,000 ASHAs, India has more than met that goal of one ASHA per village. While the sheer number of ASHA’s working across India today is encouraging, the results of their work has been varied.
The ReMiND Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Application, funded and implemented by Catholic Relief Services, is a multimedia job aid which helps ASHAs to systematically assess and counsel pregnant women during routine home visits. ASHAs use the app to register each new mother, entering client data into the phone, which is then stored in the cloud. ASHAs also use the mobile phone app to share accurate health information with pregnant women and their families. In all this, the ASHAs’ work is streamlined and catalogued, all while being delivered authoritatively and accurately.