CRS supports health systems strengthening work in the state of Uttar Pradesh with a mobile health initiative that works with community-level maternal and child health workers. These community workers, known as ASHAs, are members of the village where they work and receive small government stipends for doing outreach to pregnant and lactating women.
With private funding, CRS created a mobile health tool that puts ICT4D solutions on basic phones. The app prompts ASHAs on what messages to communicate during each visit. The messages are all given from an audio recording and color-coded, allowing illiterate ASHAs to follow the standard government curriculum. They record information about each woman’s pregnancy and delivery in the app.
Prior to using a mobile device, ASHAs often forgot which messages to deliver at what time, or they gave all pregnancy messages in one sitting, regardless of where a woman was at in her pregnancy. ASHA Sunita Prajapati counsels Nirmala Devi who is in her second pregnancy. Sunita is a single mother of a 6-year-old girl, as her husband left when she was pregnant, and she lives in her mother’s home.
Sunita had completed 12 years of education when she became an ASHA, but with her earnings as a community health worker, she was able to pay her own tuition for a bachelor’s degree (the equivalent of an associate’s degree in the U.S.). She saves every rupee she can for her daughter’s education, and she is also responsible for all of the household expenses. She has helped more than 500 pregnant and lactating women since she started working as an ASHA in 2007.