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On July 23, mSakhi—an interactive smartphone app that provides on-the-job support to frontline health workers—won an mBillionth Award from the Digital Empowerment Foundation for outstanding mobile content. IntraHealth International accepted the award on behalf of the National Health Mission of the Government of Uttar Pradesh in India, with whom IntraHealth partnered to develop and roll out mSakhi.
India alone has nearly one billion mobile phone subscribers and represents the second-largest smartphone market globally. Mobile technology continues to grow rapidly among all socio-economic strata, and the development community is leveraging this unprecedented reach to improve health care on the front lines, particularly inremote, rural areas.
The mBillionth Awards began in 2010 to recognize and honor outstanding mobile content and applications used for development in South Asia.This year, 320 nominees representing five countries competed for 24 winning spots across ten categories. In the mHealth category, there were 57 nominations, and mSakhi was one of two winners.
mSakhi was designed specifically for use by accredited social health activists, or ASHAs. ASHAs, who often have low levels of literacy, mobilize community members to seek maternal, newborn, child, and reproductive health services. However, existing paper-based job aids such as text-heavy reference materials, bulky counseling flipbooks, and complex newborn care checklists are often not appropriate or easy for ASHAs to use. mSakhi combines these job aids and also allows ASHAs to fulfill reporting requirements (such as registering new pregnancies and births) in an easy-to-use app that includes audio and visual content.
mSakhi includes a separate application for auxiliary nurse midwives, who supervise ASHAs, and a web portal allows supervisors and program managers to monitor key indicators of health worker performance in real time.
Based on the results of two studies that tested the feasibility and effectiveness of mSakhi as a self-learning, counselling, and home visit job-aid, the Government of Uttar Pradesh is adapting and scaling up an mHealth initiative among 12,000 frontline health workers who serve five districts—home to 10 million people in Uttar Pradesh.
IntraHealth also works with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to run an mHealth lab in Jhansi district. The lab serves as an ongoing learning and demonstration site and allows implementers to test and adapt their scale-up approaches.