What does a successful ehealth initiative require?
Sophisticated Technology, armies of technical experts and senior doctors all working in tandem right? No wrong, if you follow the example set by the Gujrat government, all it needs is a mobile phone and a trained health worker.
Surprised ? But it is actually true the E Mamta program run by the Gujrat government has achieved good results with a technology as simple as the SMS. And now it is being piloted in some other states as well.
In 2010 the infant mortality rate in Gujrat was 48 per 1000 live births. In a bid to improve these numbers and reduce the infant mortality rate the Gujrat government hit upon an idea to implement E Mamta a mobile phone based program.
Under this program health workers trained by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) travelled the length and breadth of Gujrat collecting information on expectant mothers and infants. This information was then sent back to the State Rural Health Mission SRHM) via SMS. The SMS was in Gujrati but typed in English letters. The information collected was very basic like the Pregnancy term, the immunizations taken and some other very basic vital statistics. The State rural health mission then collated this data and set up alerts for mothers and infants, who would be required to take vaccines or medicines as and when their pregnancy progressed.
These alerts were used to notify local health workers of the regions who reached out to these mothers to help them understand the plan and supply them with basic medication as required.
The plan seems to be working and in 2012 the infant mortality rate has dropped to 44 per 1000 live births. Now almost 480 Million families have registered for the E Mamta program and are receiving the benefits of the program.
Seeing the success of the program many states like Andhra and Uttrakhand are planning pilots and Nasscom has awarded the program with a social innovation award.
The next step for E Mamta is to send recorded messages which take less time and can be easily done considering the language for education is Gujrati.
So the bottom line is that countries like India can think in a frugally innovative fashion to provide healthcare and do not necessarily need huge investments in Infrastructure and technology.
Hopefully E Mamta would be replicated in others parts of the country as well, as Gujrat shows the way even here.
For more on E Mamta please visit http://e-mamta.gujarat.gov.in/
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