Digital media initiative aims to improve women's health

Carlin Carr, Bangalore Community Manager
Bangalore, 3 September 2015

Building off the momentum of the Millennium Development Goals, the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals will continue to push local, national and global bodies to improve healthcare access for the most vulnerable populations. While urban Indians have more information and resources when it comes to health matters, there are still many taboo areas of concern. Issues related to women's health, family planning and reproductive health are often difficult to access in reliable and relatable forms.

Bangalore-based mDhil, an online medical resource center, has developed videos and mobile campaigns to bring important health information, especially targeting women, to users in the city and beyond. In order to make the information accessible to a variety of patients across socio-economic barriers, mDhil's materials are available in multiple Indian languages. Videos cover a range of topics, from health and wellness to food to ideas for healthier lives. At the heart of the mission, though, is to target women in need of better information about their personal health matters.

mDhil has found that 60 percent of women surveyed prefer to see the videos on sensitive topics rather than visit a doctor. One of the reasons may be that there are too few female doctors, and patients don't feel comfortable discussing issues related to family planning and reproductive health with men. Also, visiting a doctor can be time-consuming and women, particularly the poor, lose money from their daily-wage work when they need to take time out for appointments. mDhil also says that there is a "lack of dignity and privacy with basic question regarding menstruation and birth control" during doctor visits. In the end, many women end up with unqualified "quacks" who perpetuate myths related to menstruation, pregnancy and other women's health issues.

Empowering women to make positive decisions about their own health comes with education and awareness, and technology has proven to fill that gap. mDhil's videos and mobile apps privately connect patients with much-needed medical information and provide a platform for interacting with that information. mDhil's videos reach over 2.5 million people every month and have already reached 40 million viewers since its inception.

While connecting women with the reliable information is a good first step in improving women's health, global goals need to continue to focus on strengthening medical systems and care. SDG 3 relates directly to improving these systems by calling for healthier lives for all. The first point under this mandate is focused on reducing the global maternal mortality rate, a recognition of the vast need to help women get both the information they need to make decisions to ensure their health and well-being as well access to qualified healthcare professionals. The systems will only function if women are empowered with the knowledge to make informed decisions — a step mDhip has already begun and will hopefully continue to spread as the SDGs take form next year.

Photo credit: Community Eye Health

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