The Hope of Mobile Phones in Indian Rural Healthcare

Arul CHIB, Yi Jia CHEONG, Lin Chieh Lynette LEE, Chiah Hwee Cheryl NG, Chin Kee TAN, Kameswari VLV


This research paper evaluated the use of mobile phones by rural community healthcare workers under India's National Rural Health Mission scheme, in particular Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), primarily women whose main role is to aid pregnant women in childbirth. In-depth interviews with ASHAs (13), other rural healthcare workers (14), patients (11) and doctors (18) were conducted using the information and communication technologies for healthcare development model (Chib, 2010; Chib, Lwin, Ang, Lin, & Santoso, 2008). The study revealed that four main benefits of using mobile phones—opportunity production, capabilities enhancement, social enabling and knowledge generation—as well as obstacles to usage, which include economic, technological, socio-cultural and infrastructural barriers, were applicable in the Indian rural healthcare context. The paper provides policy recommendations for developing-country government investment in rural healthcare towards supporting the organic diffusion of mobile phones versus the current Internet focus.


mHealth; mobiles; maternal health; ICT; network; India; ASHA

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