Aponjon mHealth service soft-launched
Aponjon mHealth service, an initiative in Bangladesh by USAID under the auspices of Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), made a soft-launch last month after a successful pilot operation last year.
Already 540 community agents of five outreach partners of the initiative have started enrolling clients in 17 districts. This is the first service under the Aponjon brand that provides health information service to expecting and new mothers through mobile phone.
MAMA was launched globally in May last year by Secretary of States Hillary Clinton.
The initiative is being implemented in three countries- Bangladesh, India and South Africa. Bangladesh is the first country which goes to national scale after a rigorous pilot phase since September last year. The global partners of the initiative are USAID, Johnson and Johnson, mHealth Alliance, UN Foundation and Baby Centre LLC.
The public-private collaboration with a sustainability model is being implemented by D.Net, a social enterprise in Bangladesh for promoting access to information and knowledge. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Access to Information Program at Prime Minister's Office are the official partner of the initiative.
By using innovative financing models, Aponjon is set to become the first financially sustainable health information service using mobile phones to improve health outcomes at national scale in a developing country. The goal of Aponjon is to contribute to reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality by improving health-seeking and preventative behaviours of pregnant women, new mothers and their families.The service is currently available through 4 large operators and remaining two operators will be connected very soon.
The innovative approach of reaching out marginalised community was materialised through partnership with institutions like BRAC, MCHIP (MaMoni Program), Smiling Sun Franchise Program (SSFP), Social Marketing Company (SMC), and, Fair Price International (InfoLady). Directorate of Health Service, Bangladesh (DGHS), Directorate of Family Planning, Bangladesh (DGFP), Union Information and Service Centre (by A2I-2 program, PMO).
Government's Community Clinic's will be part of outreach partnership in the second phase of the initiative.
The partnership with outreach partners will allow Aponjon to reach remote corners of the country through an army of community agents, who will promote the service and enroll the potential subscribers with the service.
More than 5000 community health agents and 6000 standalone facilities (clinics, government hospitals, union information and service centre and blue star service providers) will be engaged for the purpose. So far, 450 community agents are trained and deployed. A customer service center is available for the subscribers and to enroll subscribers, respond to the queries of the people and receive complains.
The Aponjon service design includes not only the expecting and new mothers, it also includes gatekeepers like husbands, mother-in-laws, mothers and other relatives. The pro-poor design of the service ensures that at least 20 per cent of the subscribers receive the service free of costs.
Currently, 27 per cent subscribers are receiving the service free of costs. Aponjon is expected to reach more than 2 million of subscribers by 2015.