World Vision expands mobile health program in India with support from Baxter International Foundation
A $140,000 two-year grant from Baxter International Foundation will allow World Vision to provide community health workers with cell phones loaded with the Motech Suite mHealth platform, so they can deliver vital health information to families during the most crucial time in a child’s life—the first 1,000 days (from conception to age two). Impoverished families in India—even those in urban areas—have little, if any, access to healthcare, making them vulnerable to preventable illness and death. The application, called CommCare in India, replaces heavy, bound ledgers health workers carried on their rounds. It provides audio clips and pictures that explain basic healthcare practices that are important for pregnant and nursing women, infants, and young children. These tools are vital, because literacy among volunteer health workers varies, and it is essential they pass on accurate and easily understood information.
The app enables trained community health workers to register pregnant women into the Bangalore government health system as well as a database managed by World Vision. Health workers log the date of conception, and the program automatically adds the expected due date, and then sends reminders for regular visits that deliver timely information. Messages include how to spot danger signs during pregnancy, the importance of maternal nutrition, and getting prenatal care. An urgent response feature ensures an emergency responder will be alerted if a woman experiences complications before or after delivery.
Once a mother has delivered, the app helps community health workers provide counseling on the best feeding practices for a baby, such as exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months, and then adding appropriate and nutritious foods. It can track a baby’s height and weight to monitor healthy development. Mothers also learn how important it is that they eat well—so they can better nurse their babies, keeping both healthy and strong.
Because immunization rates are low in Bangalore, the project has a strong focus on encouraging mothers to take their infants and children under 5 to immunization clinics, to make sure they receive the essential vaccines needed to protect them from preventable illness. The app tracks immunizations, and prompts the health worker to visit families when a child misses a dose. The appeal of this focus led local health officials to include World Vision on its Measles and Rubella Campaign steering committee.
“Baxter and Baxter International Foundation are committed to supporting efforts that increase access to healthcare in underserved communities, and the expansion of the mHealth platform to all 198 wards of Bangalore exemplifies our commitment to sustainably increasing access to healthcare at the root level,” said Stacey Eisen, president of the Baxter International Foundation and senior vice president, Global Communications, at Baxter. “This is an innovative solution to help ensure women and their children have access to care at a most vulnerable time.”
To date, the project has reached 3,650 pregnant women and children under five. With government support, the aim of providing 14 community health workers with mobile phones and training was increased to 115.
The project runs through 2019, and World Vision and Baxter International Foundation, in an extension of the original project, are expanding program reach into all 198 wards of Bangalore, from the current 140. Its effects will be lasting, as lessons provided by health workers through the CommCare app are expected to impact family health decisions for generations to come, and increase use of and demand for health services.
About Baxter and Baxter International Foundation
Baxter and Baxter International Foundation are committed to saving and sustaining lives. Every day, Baxter employees strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who depend on Baxter products, and in the communities where employees live and work. The company focuses on advancing three core areas: improving access to healthcare; fostering tomorrow’s innovation and serving its communities. Baxter works closely with public and private partners around the world to ensure people have access to the healthcare they need, to develop the next generation of innovators who will lead the way in advancing care, and to create long-lasting impact in Baxter’s communities. Baxter International Foundation supports initiatives and organizations that make a positive, lasting impact on increasing access to healthcare for the disadvantaged and underserved. For more information, please visit https://www.baxter.com.
About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.