The monthly Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day (VHSND) is always crowded with women and kids who come for health checks and immunisations. They come in droves for this last mile government health outreach programme, conducted by an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM). The Community Health Workers (CHWs) have recently been trained to add a new feature to VHSND’s health communications and services delivery platform: ‘Gupshup Potli’ (A bagful of conversations).

The ANM, Kamla, lays out her equipment—stethoscope, tablets, blood pressure machine, and scales. She sets about immunising and weighing kids, and answering women’s questions. During the half-hour observation period after vaccination, she nods at the AWW to start the new communication, as she herself is still busy distributing tablets.

The AWW connects her mobile phone to a speaker via an auxiliary cable. She dials a toll-free number to access Gupshup Potli, and the speaker broadcasts a health message. This one is about how discussion between husbands and wives makes family planning easier and more effective. After the play-out, the AWW uses cue cards to start a discussion and address questions. Young mothers in the audience, like Gauri, who is already a mother of two and pregnant with a third child, will hopefully carry the discussion forward at home.

The next month, at the next VHSND event, Gupshup Potli will broadcast a different normative health message that will trickle down to the entire village community. Like Gauri, many people will talk about the Gupshup Potli message with their mothers-in-law, husbands, other family members and friends. The service aims to stimulate conversations that serve as a gateway to large-scale behaviour change, generating further health awareness and reach.

In order to make Gupshup Potli heard above the noise of the crowd, BBC Media Action distributes hardware – in this case, speakers and cables that fit varying kinds of mobile phone jacks, and trains CHWs to use them.

Leveraging simple, pervasive technology like mobile phones and existing infrastructure has allowed Gupshup Potli to piggyback on the well-established VHSND platform. For roughly the cost of a disposable syringe, it generates potentially large-scale health awareness, and demand for health services, without affecting the VHSND’s workflow, mandate, and objectives. It is flexibly designed to serve local context, and to accommodate the work division between ANMs, who are custodians of the output, and AWWs, who are also trained to operate the hardware. Gupshup Potli is also aligned with government monitoring and reporting systems.

Gupshup Potli sparks family and social conversations. And there’s nothing like group conversation to spread an idea—or a bagful of ideas.



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