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Mobile app helps improve services of frontline village health workers

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 24, 2019  | 12:22 IST

New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) A mobile phone application for community health workers has helped improved their performance in Gujarat, with a government study finding that 80 per cent of maternal and infant deaths can be prevented by improving coverage and quality of evidence-based health services provided by health workers. A randomized study conducted in Gujarat between 2013 and 2018 found that a new mobile phone application called ImTeCHO (Innovative Mobile-phone Technology for Community Health Operators) as job-aid for frontline village health workers called ASHAs can help improve coverage of health services and health outcomes. Developed in 2013, the mobile application is aimed at improving performance of ASHAs through better supervision and support for reducing maternal and infant mortality. ImTeCHO helps them deliver maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) care services and record data under better supervision.  The application provides accredited social health activists (ASHAs) with their daily schedules along with reminders of steps to carry out during their visits. The collected data and services offered are tracked. The study was done by voluntary organization SEWA Rural in active partnership with Gujarat government and IT partner-(Argusoft India Ltd), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), World Health Organization (WHO) and MacArthur Foundation provided technical inputs and funding for the study. Dr Pankaj Shah, principal investigator of the study, said the study used the best possible and robust randomized design to examine effect of the mobile app.  "This is first randomized study globally which proved the effectiveness of a mobile phone application for frontline health workers in government-run system throughout continuum of care in difficult to reach tribal areas," he said. The study noted that good training, supportive supervision and ongoing resolution of technology problems are critical operational requirements for successful of such technology intensive interventions, Dr Shah said. Dr Gaurav Dahiya, MD- National Health Mission, Gujarat noted, "The health department has scaled up the project in entire state. We aim to taper off use of paper registers by using digital interventions. The use of smart phones by female ASHAs and ANMs has greatly improved their self-confidence and knowledge. "It is a right step towards gender equality and Digital India," he said. So far, 5.8 crore citizens, 4.9 lakh pregnant women and 6.4 lakh infants under the age of one year are enrolled by ANMs in the TeCHO+ app in Gujarat until February 2019. The prime minister had launched state wide-scale up of the project as improved "TeCHO+" on October 8, 2017. The prime minister had noted that "TeCHO mobile application will become support to all health workers to do their health-related activities". PTI PLB DV DV

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