Divya Lalitha Ramachandran and John F. Canny
National Science Foundation
We focus on India’s rural maternal health system where health workers (called Accredited Social Health Activists, or ASHAs) are employed in villages to persuade pregnant women to utilize health services. ASHAs face challenges due to resistance to change in the village, and because of their limited education, training and status. These factors appear to reduce the motivation of health workers and impair their performance. Over four months, we studied these issues in the state of Orissa, India, through over 50 interviews with ASHAs, their clients, clients’ families, and other influential persons in the community such as council members and chiefs. After our extensive needs assessment we deployed over two months short videos on topics related to maternal health on mobile phones, designed to persuade village women and motivate health workers. We also asked health workers to record their own videos of key community influencers talking about health. Our preliminary results show evidence that the creation and use of videos did help (1) engage village women in dialogue, (2) show positive effects toward health worker motivation and learning, and (3) motivate key community influencers to participate in promoting the health workers.
Figure 1: An ASHA uses a mobile video to discuss the topic of anemia with her pregnant client.