LIVE FROM MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS: Over three million minutes of content have been accessed by users in Bihar since two mobile health services were launched in the Indian state in May 2012, according to Sara Chamberlain, head of ICT in India for BBC Media Action, the organisation’s charity for international development.
The BBC service, which offers information on maternal and child health, is the result of working with mobile operators including Airtel, Reliance and Vodafone, as well as Bihar’s state government.
Chamberlain spoke during a conference session at the congress.
The health services are designed to be affordable for the poorest user and accessible from any handset via a voice call.
And the BBC is preparing the service for a wide launch, starting in another Indian state, Odisha. It is also in discussions with the country’s central government about rolling it out across India’s northern states.
The two services in Bihar, Mobile Academy and Mobile Kunji, were launched as part of a Gates Foundation-funded programme.
Nearly two million minutes of content were accessed on the Mobile Academy training course for Bihar’s community health workers. And 1.56 million minutes were accessed on the Mobile Kunji service that helps the health workers in delivering information to mothers, and their families.
Both services use interactive voice response (IVR) so that content is available for even the most basic handsets. Services are accessed via short codes that are common across all the major operators in Bihar. Tariffs are the same for each operator too.
Health workers pay about $1.50 for up to 12 months access for completing the training course. And the Gates Foundation is covering the cost of calls to the Mobile Kunji service for its first year. Afterwards, Bihar’s state government will pick up the bill from mid-2013.