How do you convince a woman who is struggling to make ends meet that she should invest in better healthcare for herself and her children?
The same way you would convince anyone to buy any product. Follow a few simple sales principles: build a relationship with the client, understand her needs, demonstrate the product’s value to her, and then deliver.
The Shaping Demand and Practices project’s Master Trainers have trained 40,000 health workers in Bihar, one of India’s least developed states, to understand this process of persuasion. They then apply it in their effort to encourage rural women to adopt behaviours that will help to lower maternal and child mortality rates.
The art of persuasion
Training is challenging, sensitive work. And the two key groups of health workers – ASHAs, who interface between citizens and the public health system, and Anganwadi workers, who provide basic nutrition and other family health advice–must be persuaded to attend, and stay for all the sessions.
Each hour of the session is therefore planned to retain interest and encourage participation. The training sessions include presentations, discussion, and role-play.
Each health worker learns how to challenge traditional beliefs, how to help women care better for themselves and their children, and how to deliver this information effectively to rural mothers and mothers-to-be.
To help her, the worker is given an innovative audio-visual job aid called Mobile Kunji. This is a set of cards relating to child and maternal health, which are used along with a mobile phone to access additional recorded information designed to reinforce key health messages.
The Interpersonal Communication training teaches each woman to disseminate health information effectively. Her knowledge base, supplied by Mobile Kunji and a certified healthcare course called Mobile Academy, is better shared with rural women as a result of the training.
One of the major aims of the training programme is to instill in each health worker a sense of her critical role in saving lives and improving the health of mothers and children.
Over three days, the shyness and uncertainty of most trainees are replaced with confidence and enthusiasm, as each woman takes ownership of the valuable role she plays in the fight to save lives.
Health workers emerge from the training more sure-footed, motivated, and excited about their role in helping to save lives.
Training Community Health Workers in interpersonal communication (IPC) is crucial to addressing the clash between community beliefs and positive health practices. Health workers are often untrained and lack the skills required to convince families to change behaviour. Approximately 40,000 Community Health Workers were trained across eight districts in Bihar in six months. Training is now being scaled to the rest of the state.
A trainer explains the art of negotiation to Community Health Workers. The training is modeled on a sales cycle approach that seeks to teach Community Health Workers how to persuade families to adopt better health practices.
A group of Community Health Workers role-play negotiation techniques using both the sales cycle approach and our audio-visual job aid, Mobile Kunji. Practice through role-play helps reinforce the techniques they have been taught.
Two trainers share a light moment with one of the trainee Community Health Workers between sessions. The three day training programme is designed to keep Community Health Workers engaged for the entire duration of the course.
Upon completing the course, Community Health Workers take an oath to approach their work with renewed vigour. The training seeks to raise confidence and inspire health workers in their efforts to save the lives of mothers and children in their own communities.