Audio messages in India
Urbanisation is happening very rapidly in India. People are leaving rural areas and moving into the cites. They leave behind their extended family, which has traditionally supported young parents. The maternal and child mortality in these areas is increasing because of lack of support and information. And yet more people in India have access to a mobile phone than have access to a toilet!
We created audio messages for a programme called mMitra (or ‘sister friend’ in Hindi). These are delivered twice a week during pregnancy and the first year of the baby’s life, in both Hindi and Marathi. The programme began in Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in the world, with a population of up to one million people. If you have seen the film Slumdog Millionaire you will be familiar with it. Following initial success, the programme has now been extended to other slums and cities in India.
We carried out many focus groups with women in the slums before developing the messages. We also worked with a team of local experts to identify the key behaviour changes we needed to build into the messages. Full results of the programme will be published later this year.
- Increased demand at clinics. A municipal antenatal clinic which ran 4 hours a week in the Nallasopara slums had to increase frequency to 3 days a week due to increased attendance by women
- Earlier registration. Most mothers went to the clinic in the 5th-6th month of pregnancy. Now they are going in the 3rd-4th month as they are aware of the importance of early antenatal care
- Increase in family communication. Many women put the messages onto speaker phone and the whole family listen to the messages
In their words
Mothers have told us
‘My last baby died because I did not know that there was a time when I should go to the hospital. But this baby will be safe because the messages tell me when to go.’
‘I did not realise my daughter-in-law needs more food now she is pregnant. I put food aside for her so she does not go hungry and her baby will grow well’
‘Everyone in the family helps me now. They make sure I drink clean water and take my iron pills every day’