Aiming to enhance access and make schemes more cost effective and robust, the government launched four mobile health services, including M-Cessation which reaches out to those who want to quit tobacco through text messages on mobile phones.
Union Health Minister J P Nadda while launching the four services (m-Health) – ‘Kilkari, Mobile Academy, M-Cessation and TB Missed Call initiative, said that these are part of the government’s Digital India programme and are in line with the commitment to prioritise public health.
“The m-Health initiatives launched today will enhance access, make our services cost effective and our systems more robust. We are on our way to realise the vision of our Prime Minister by going digital. These four mobile health services will be a game changer in health communication. I am confident that these initiatives will bring us closer to people who need our services the most,” Nadda said after launching the services.
The Health Minister said that in keeping with the vision of Digital India based on harnessing technology for the benefit of people, the OPD registration at AIIMS in the national capital 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.
Under ‘Kilkari’, which means ‘a baby’s gurgle’, delivery of free and weekly 72 audio messages about pregnancy, child birth and child care will be given directly to mobile phones of the families 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.
Similarly, 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, an official statement said.
This service is being launched in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. “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,” the statement said.
Health Ministry officials said that under the 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 amongst others.
Initially, the service will be available to people in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi. Nadda also 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.