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HealthPhone: Laying the Foundation for Combating Malnutrition in India (5)

HIFA Quotation: 
[HealthPhone] Anecdotal evidence and Behaviour change noticed:
-  increased use of ORS and Zinc during diarrhoea episodes;
-  increased frequency, at critical times, of hand washing using soap and water;
-  a rise in early and exclusive breastfeeding rates and 
-  more mothers and children getting a full round of their routine immunization. 
-  Fewer maternal & child deaths; 
-  Improved nutrition; 
-  Fewer occurrences and less effect of major infectious diseases
The government is now expanding the program to cover 15 high risk districts (pop. 56 million)
Re: "...what challenges you have noticed and whether your thought this initiative was sustainable in the long term."
The greatest challenge is the funding of video content. Since we could not reach them directly before, video content created in the past was not aimed at mothers; it was aimed at health workers. Two different approaches required to bring about change. There aren't sufficient and comprehensive libraries of knowledge videos, in local languages, to cover the essential health and nutrition topics for mothers, husbands, mother-in-laws and the population at large.
Other challenges of translation of existing content to local languages, distribution, user interfaces, adaptability to the wide variety of mobile handsets and platforms can and are being resolved over time. I see the implementation of HealthPhone not as an On/Off switch; it is more like a dimmer switch. It will take time and will gradually be embraced by more and more governments, UNOs and NGOs.
Studies show that for every dollar spent on prevention there is a saving of 19 dollars currently being spent on treatment, control and management of diseases. So, yes, I think that governments, and citizens, will begin to reap the benefits and larger portions of health budgets, as well as donor contributions, will be directed towards prevention. This will make it sustainable in the long term.
Date of HIFA message: 
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Author Name: 
Nand Wadhwani
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HIFA profile: Nand Wadhwani is a Founding Trustee of The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust (MCHET) . Over the past 15 years he has launched several programmes to address the challenge of improving health education in underdeveloped countries. MCHET works primarily in the areas of mother and child nutrition, water, hygiene, sanitation and diarrhoea prevention and management. Nand firmly believes that the most effective and efficient way to advance health education is by employing a mix of established and newer communication technologies to deliver contextually-appropriate messages directly to the people who need it most. He is presently working on the development of HealthPhone, an illiterate-friendly mobile phone app. with preloaded, reliable, relevant health and nutrition material in various formats and that will initially be offered in English and several other languages. Using rich multimedia, HealthPhone will put life-saving and life-changing content directly in the hands of those who can use it in an accessible format and with 24x7 availability, everywhere. He is a HIFA2015 Steering Group member and a member of the HIFA 2012 Challenge Working Group. nand AT

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