DHAKA: Health Minister Dr AFM Ruhul Haque and Richard Greene, Mission Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), inaugurated the national scale-up of ‘Aponjon’, the first nation-wide mobile phone health information service in Bangladesh.
The service will provide weekly health messages to expecting and new mothers to encourage proper care during pregnancy and after the baby is born, said a press release on Wednesday.
The low-cost service, free for the poorest 20 percent of its subscribers, aims to reduce maternal and newborn illnesses and deaths.
USAID, through its implementing partner D.Net, helps Aponjon to quickly and efficiently distribute important health information to pregnant women about proper care for themselves and for their young babies.
The messages will dispel common misconceptions, inform expecting and new mothers of potential health dangers and warning signs, help them find local healthcare services and explain the advantages of family planning.
During the pilot phase of this program over the past year, the service reached more than 1,600 new and expectant mothers. Beginning now, the service will scale-up nationwide, eventually reaching more than three million women and family members by 2015.
As a part of the ceremony, Health Minister Dr. AFM Ruhul Haque personally registered a pregnant mother, who will receive the service free of cost. Beneficiaries in the poorest communities in remote areas will receive the service free of cost. The service design of Aponjon includes not only pregnant and new mothers, but other key decision-makers in the family such as husbands, mothers and mothers-in-law.
Aponjon was launched by the Government of Bangladesh in May 2011 under the auspices of the global Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), a global public-private partnership between USAID, Johnson & Johnson, mHealth Alliance, United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter.
Bangladesh, India, and South Africa were selected as priority countries under MAMA and, of these three countries, Bangladesh is the first to take mobile health messaging services to national scale under Aponjon.
The service can be accessed by calling 16227 (the short code for Aponjon’s services) on Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, and Airtel mobile networks at the rate of Tk 2 per message.
The US government, through USAID, has provided over $6 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971. In 2012, USAID provided more than $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh.
USAID supports programs in Bangladesh that: promote democratic institutions and practices, expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education services, and increase resiliency to climate change through adaptation and low carbon development.
BDST: 1620 HRS, DEC 19, 2012
Edited by: M. Mahbub Alam, Asst Output Editor/ SM Salahuddin, Output Editor
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