SMS bringing more women to birthing centers

Published On: December 16, 2016 02:05 AM NPT By: Sangam Gharti Magar

BAGLUNG, Dec 16: “Please come for regular health check- up.” This message has been doing wonders to improve maternal and child health in Baglung.  While 1,100 women had given birth in birthing centers last year, the number has leapfrogged to 1,500 within just five months this fiscal year, thanks to the appealing message sent to pregnant ladies. The message service which was started in four VDCs in the district in 2012 as a pilot project was extended across the district from this fiscal year. 

“It is just a simple message. But it is doing a great job. They come for regular check up as the message appeals them to do so,” said Narayan Rijal, assistant officer at Information and Technology Desk of DPHO. “Women's response to the message is indeed very encouraging,” he added. 

As per the record at District Public Health Office (DPHO), there are around 1,500 pregnant women in the district currently. Pregnant women are sent message during fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth month of pregnancy.

Women health volunteers first record pregnancy of women in their locality during regular door to door visit program. Once the pregnancy is recorded, the subject's mobile number is saved along with other information. After the data is entered in software, it automatically tracks and sends information to the related person time to time. According to Rijal, the service has become possible due to widespread use of mobile phones. 
According to Harikashi Palikhele, focal person of the birthing center at District Health Office, Baglung, the message service is the factor behind the encouraging result. “In the last fiscal year, 1,100 women had delivered baby in birthing centers. This time, just within five months, 1,500 women have already sought the service in birthing centers,” she said. 

Birthing centers are in operation in 42 VDCs in Baglung. According to senior officer Deepak Prasad
Tiwari at the District Public Health Office, those centers have become very busy since the government launched the mobile message service. “It was targeted to women for their as well as babies' health. And it has worked successfully,” he said. 

“Earlier, they would ignore this matter. But now as soon as they get message in their mobile, they become alert and manage to come for check up. Gradually, after becoming aware they are willing to give birth in birthing centers,” Tiwari further said. 

There are 950 women health volunteers in the district who have been provided with a set of mobile phone along with a sim card. They are also given Rs 200 for mobile recharge every month.  

The government had started the message service as a pilot project in 2012 in four villages of the district. As the project was successful, the service was extended to the entire district from the current fiscal. According to Tiwari, the service is being provided also in Gorkha, Ilam and Dhading.  

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