Mobile phone technology: bridging the health communication gap in rural Nepal

Discussion being facilitated by a female community health volunteer (FCHV) during a health facility operation and management committee meeting about bridging the gap between the community and health facility. Use of mobile phones for this purpose has been extremely successful in the village of Lekhgaun, Surkhet district.
The use of information and communication technology in the health sector is rapidly gaining popularity in developing countries. Despite being located in Lekhgaun, a remote village in Surkhet district, Nepal, the Health Facility Operation and Management Committee (HFOMC) was fully aware of the exciting possibilities in improving the health outcomes through modern technological innovations. In order to bridge the gap between service providers and clients, HFOMC adopted mobile phone technology that allows community health volunteers to quickly relay important health information, and be easily reached by their health posts.

The local village development committee (VDC) enthusiastically lent financial support to the mobile phone initiative, providing all nineteen female community health volunteers (FCHVs) from the village with mobile phones. The FCHVs are now regularly and effectively using the phones to communicate health messages and emergency health information with the community, health facility and HFOMCs.

“These mobile phones have made it so easy for the health facility to inform us of any important message that needs to be delivered to the community. It has really helped connect the people with our health facility and promote the utilization of health services. Communicating with the people from my village has never been so easy!” says Tulasha Pulami, FCHV from ward 8 in Lekhguan.

The mobile phones have served as a tool, not only to improve health communication and subsequently, utilization of health services, but also to increase the motivation of FCHVs, who have expressed that by giving them the mobile phones, they feel rewarded and appreciated for their hard work. In addition to FCHV empowerment, this innovative initiative highlights good local health governance, the positive collaboration between the HFOMC and VDC and use of local resources to address real gaps at the community level.