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.

Mobile Kunji

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.

Mobile Academy

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.

Building confidence

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.




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