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Govt initiates health advice for moms through mobile phone

DHAKA, May 30, 2017 (BSS) - Health advice for pregnant mothers and their new born babies are now just one click away for rural people as the Bangladesh government initiated health service through mobile phone nationally.

Now, anyone can get health advice from physicians through SMS, voice message or even direct phone conversation dialing "16227" of any mobile phone operator. The government has initiated the service called "Apanjon" using all mobile operators including Grameenphone, Airtel, Banglalink and Robi.

Official sources said e-health service is one of the major components of the present government's prime campaign of digital Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the first country that initiated digital health service through mobile phone in the south Asia region.

Bangladesh has already showed its potential in providing rural health services through community clinics across the country. The Apanjon has added a new feather in the success crown of Bangladesh health care system.

The Apanjon service is designed basically for providing health advice to pregnant women, children and their families.

As part of the global health initiatives, the then USA foreign secretary Hilary Clinton inaugurated Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) in 2011.

In the same year, the Bangladesh government initiated the health care service through mobile phone as pilot basis. After getting success of piloting, the government extended the service under public private partnership countrywide.

The project is being implementing by a local private IT-based company named D-Net in corporation with Health and Family Welfare Ministry and A2I project of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with financial support from numbers of companies including USAID.

The project was taken considering the huge numbers of mobile phone users in Bangladesh that is presently nearly seven crore.

Former chief coordinator of Apanjon project Rizwana Rashid Auni said the project was taken to help the government in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on reducing mother and child mortality rate. "We achieved huge success through the project. People from every corner of the country are taking health advice daily dialing 16227 number," she said.

Community health specialist Dr Najnin Akhtar said nearly 80 percent of deaths due to pregnancy or complicacies during giving birth are preventable. "It is a must to educate the pregnant mothers through proper health advice for checking all preventable deaths," she said.

Dr Najnin said many rural people don't know how to take care a mother as well as the child during the pregnancy. Apanjon works as a very effective tool to educate the rural people about health care of mother and children, she added.

Marketing and Communication Executive of Apanjon Piash Islam said the service is open to all for 24 hours in seven days of a week.

He said anyone can get the information about how to take proper care of pregnant mother, new born children and their vaccination.

Initially, Apanjon charged Taka 2 for every health advice. Currently, Apanjon initiated pre-paid packages for expecting mothers. Anyone can buy pre-paid packages by Taka 55 for three months, Taka 100 for six months and Taka 200 for one year, he added.

He said they are planning to provide health advice through video calling in between patient and physician in future.

In 2001, the country recorded 322 deaths per 100,000 live births, which by 2010 was reduced to 194, putting the country on track to achieve its MDG target of 143 by 2015.