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Union Ministers Unveil mHealth Program ‘Kilkari’ & Mobile Academy for Health Workers

Written by : Jayati Dubey

February 9, 2024

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MoHFW centrally hosts the Kilkari Program, sparing States/UTs from additional investments in technology, telephony, or operational costs.

Prof S P Singh Baghel and Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare, have virtually inaugurated the Kilkari program, a Mobile Health (m-health) initiative, and Mobile Academy in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Health Minister of Gujarat, Rushikesh Patel, also participated in the launch event.

The Kilkari Program, a centralized interactive voice response (IVR) based mobile health service, aims to provide weekly audio messages on reproductive maternal, neonatal, and child health care to beneficiaries.

The Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to enhance their knowledge and communication skills.

Vision for a Digital Health India

Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar commended healthcare professionals, especially front-line health workers, for their contributions to the Kilkari Program. The initiative aims to deliver 72 audio messages through IVRS weekly, providing timely, accurate, and relevant information on reproductive maternal, neonatal, and child healthcare.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Baghel said, "The launch of the Kilkari Program is in line with the government's commitment to prioritize the public health infrastructure and strengthen citizen-centric health services by leveraging India's expanding mobile phone penetration."

He further highlighted the importance of maternal health, stating that only a healthy mother can deliver a healthy child.

Initiatives under Kilkari Program

'Kilkari,' meaning a baby's gurgle,' is an IVR-based mobile health service delivering free, weekly, and time-appropriate audio messages about pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare.

The service directly reaches families' mobile phones from the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is one year old. Pregnant women and mothers with children under one year registered in the Reproductive Child Health (RCH) portal receive weekly calls with pre-recorded audio content. The messages are delivered through a fictitious doctor character called Dr Anita.

Moreover, the Kilkari Program is centrally hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for all states and union territories (States/UTs). Additionally, States/UTs and beneficiaries do not incur any costs for the technology, telephony infrastructure, or operational expenses.

The service is integrated with the centralized Reproductive Child Health (RCH) portal, serving as the single source of information for this mHealth service.

The Mobile Academy, also launched during the event, is a free audio training course designed for ASHAs. It aims to expand and refresh their knowledge while improving communication skills via mobile phones. The course is cost-effective and efficient, allowing simultaneous training of thousands of ASHAs anytime, anywhere.

Beneficiary States & UTs

Currently, Kilkari is being implemented in 18 States/UTs, including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Uttarakhand.

The Mobile Academy is operational in 17 States/UTs, excluding Chandigarh, with language options such as Hindi, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Assamese, Bengali, and Telugu.

The Union Ministers appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the launch of the initiatives and invited suggestions to strengthen the programs further.

Rushikesh Patel, the Health Minister of Gujarat, expressed gratitude to the Union Government for the launch of the two initiatives. He highlighted that over 95% of deliveries in Gujarat are now institutional, ensuring safer deliveries for both mothers and children.

The launch of the Kilkari Program and Mobile Academy signifies a significant step towards leveraging technology to improve maternal and child health. These initiatives align with the government's vision of a ‘Digital Health India’ and aim to empower health workers and beneficiaries with accessible and timely information.

In another development on maternal & neonatal health, last year, the George Institute for Global Health India, an independent medical research institute headquartered in New Delhi, was selected as a recipient of the 'Grand Challenges Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use' grant worth $85,265, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The institute's ambitious project aims to revolutionize maternal and neonatal healthcare in rural communities across India through the integration of innovative AI-based solutions.


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