Health Minister launches IT-enabled tool to help quit tobacco

New Delhi: The Centre today launched four IT-based health care initiatives including an audio-based mobile service which will deliver weekly messages to families about pregnancy and child birth, an IT-enabled tool to help quit tobacco, and a dedicated helpline for TB patients.

Speaking at the launch of the AIIMS OPD Transformation Project, which aims at using Information Technology to ease access to services at AIIMS, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said the audio mobile services would benefit two crore pregnant women and an equal number of infants.

Announcing the first of the four initiatives 'Kilkari' to mark the birth anniversary of Madam Mohan Malaviya and birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Nadda said it is an audio-based mobile service that delivers weekly audio messages and is being supported by Tata Consultancy Services as part of its CSR initiative.

"Each pregnant woman and infant's mother, registered in the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS), a web-enabled name-based system to monitor and ensure delivery of full spectrum of services to all pregnant women and children, would receive weekly voice messages relevant to the stage of pregnancy or age of the infant.

"The 72 messages would reach the targeted beneficiaries from the 4th month of pregnancy until the child is one year old. On an average, the duration of each message is two minutes. Such messages will empower and educate women and parents to help create a better environment in maternal and child health," Nadda said.

He said the service will be provided free of cost to the beneficiaries and in the first phase of implementation, such messages would be sent to the pregnant women and infants' mothers in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. He said the messages are being developed in Hindi, Odiya and English in the first phase. It will be later expanded to other languages.

Nadda said the other initiative, 'M-Cessation', will be an IT-enabled tool to help tobacco users to quit tobacco. Stating that it is built on a helpline concept, Nadda said it will register beneficiaries on the basis of a missed call and counselling would be done through a two-way SMS process.

The Union Health Minister also said a new mobile-based application 'Mobile Academy' has been developed through which about 90,00,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) will be imparted training.

Nadda, along with Union Minister Piyush Goyal, inaugurated the new IT-enabled OPD registry block at AIIMS. Nadda said, "This (Mobile Academy) will aid in enhancing their inter-personal skills. Once registered, ASHAs can access the 240-minute course via their mobile phones. They can then complete the standardized course at their convenience."

"Digital bookmarking technology enables ASHAs to complete the course at their own pace. The course is divided into 11 chapters each containing four lessons. There is a quiz at the end of each chapter," he said. He said ASHAs successfully completing the course by securing more than minimum prescribed marks will receive a certificate of completion from the government.

Stressing on making the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) more patient-centric, Nadda said a dedicated toll free number '1800-11-6666', attached with a call centre, is being started by the Ministry to provide round-the-clock support for patient counselling and treatment support services.

"This call centre will have trained personnel who will provide feedback to patients and also link or refer chest symptomatic persons to RNTCP services. Under this initiative, callers can give a missed call or call to get complete support for diagnosis, treatment and support for the completion of treatment on the national toll free number," the minister said.

He said this particular initiative is being started in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.

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