ICT for knowledge sharing and healthcare

Priyanka Jain, Delhi Community Manager
Delhi, 20 January 2015

Millions of stories loom on the fringe of India's surging technological boom. However, two technological innovations have successfully permeated this fringe and touched the lives of the urban poor in Delhi — eNRICH and Mother and Child Tracking System. By integrating with self-help groups and initiatives on ground, they created the right environment for the benefit of the communities.

eNRICH

The first innovation is an open knowledge platform called eNRICH — a joint effort of National Informatics Centre (NIC), Government of India (GoI), UNESCO, and the Open Knowledge Network. It's a software tool to enable users of community multimedia centers to access and contribute to knowledge resources easily. The tool is now in use to support key programs of GoI. According to the website, "eNRICH is a generic and yet easily customizable browser that acts as a gateway to a community's own world of knowledge, communication and empowerment. It enables communities to quickly and efficiently build their own gateway website, enriched with their local content and connected to knowledge sources and services that are tailored according to their own information and communication needs."

One of the examples on ground is the ICT Learning Centre for women in Seelampur, a high-density and low-income area of East Delhi. Here, marginalized women use ICTs to learn marketable skills and build their awareness of development issues, their rights and livelihood opportunities. The Seelampur women, prior to the deployment and development of eNRICH, had no organized means to access need-based information in a condensed form and in the local language immediately. They were also severely restricted in their mobility and therefore in their ability to participate in any social networks beyond their immediate family. ICTs have given the women of Seelampur new means to express and articulate themselves and also to be heard by others. The ICT centers are located at the local madrasa (religious schools) and are an open learning center for girls and women. The centers use interactive multimedia content to support vocational and life-skills training and provide appropriate information to poor girls and women.

Mother and Child Tracking System

The second innovation is the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) — one of the several key policy and program initiatives led by the Government of India to improve maternal and child health outcomes. The program has an ambitious plan to register all pregnant women and children under the age of two and track the health services that are provided to them. This system also operates as a feedback system for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), Anganwadi Workers (AWWs), and other health care providers who work with the community. ASHAs are Community Health Volunteers for every village with a population of 1,000. An ANM or AWW is a woman (18-44 years old) from the local village selected to attend to the needs of maternal and childcare in the village.

Health workers record their services on paper-based forms, which then go to data entry operators who enter the data into the system at the clock level (an administrative unit below the district where a public health center usually exists), after which the data is then uploaded to the central server. This data is used to develop work plans and home visit schedules which are sent back to the ASHAs and ANMs via SMS. The National Informatics Center, which is the IT division of the Government of India, has introduced a call center that conducts random calls to pregnant mothers to verify that the data captured reflected the services received. The MCTS is a powerful tool to strengthen maternal, neonatal, and child health outcomes by using data to monitor and identify gaps and priorities and close the feedback loop between CHWs and the Government of India.

Photo: Gates Foundation

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