Training, using simple mobile technologies, works
In India, BBC Media Action has illustrated that engaging health content delivered over Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to community health workers is an effective training method.
High quality, standardized training – anywhere, anytime.
Description on BBC Media Action's IVR training product for Community Health Workers, Mobile Academy
Description on BBC Media Action's IVR training product for Community Health Workers, Mobile Kunji
Mobile Academy uses mobile technology that is handset independent, audio based and accessed via a simple voice call to train India's 1 million community health workers to deliver life-saving information to millions of families
Community Health Workers in India are committed to reducing maternal and child mortality rates.
However, most health workers are neither highly educated nor well off. Their abilities are limited by remoteness from centres of learning, and educational and financial status. Their time is limited by family obligations.
What option, then, is available to a health worker who is keen to further develop her knowledge and skills?
Learning at convenience
Mobile Academy was designed specifically with these conditions in mind. It is an audio training course designed to expand health workers’ knowledge of life saving preventative health behaviours, and enhance their communication skills
A health worker can take the course by dialing a short mobile number from any mobile handset. The service is available across Bihar, with five of the largest mobile operators in India – Airtel, Idea, TATA, Reliance and Vodafone.
The course is delivered in the voice of an engaging yet authoritative female doctor character, called Dr Anita. It consists of nine chapters, 36 lessons and nine quizzes covering nine lifesaving behaviours. Health workers receive an accumulative pass or fail score at the end of the course; they can repeat lessons, chapters and quizzes as many times as they like.
Health workers can take the course as quickly or slowly as they like. Book marking technology remembers where they were when they last hung up, and returns them to this place when they dial again.
If they complete the course with a 50 per cent pass mark, they receive a printed certificate from the Government of Bihar.
Health workers pay for the 160 minute course themselves. At less than one cent a minute, the total cost is approximately $1.50.
Mobile Academy was developed in consultation with health workers, via an iterative user-centered design process. Those who take the course find it easy and convenient to do so. They say that it increases their confidence and their ability to help rural women and children.
During the first 12 months of the project, 27,000 people called Mobile Academy, listening to 2.9 million minutes of educational health content. Ten thousand of these listeners successfully completed the course. Mobile Academy is now being scaled across India.