"If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million."

HealthPhone™ is a resource using the medium of video transmitted through mobile phones that is designed to improve the health of economically poor and vulnerable populations around the world. "A mobile phone, with basic health information embedded on the phone, will provide families in rural villages and slums with essential health information, in their hands, when they need it, in a language they understand and with visual information that works for those with low literacy levels."

Noting that many projects have been developed to use mobile phones in various settings to transmit messages - encouraging people to come to health centres for checkups, sending reminders to take medication, and being integrated into public health campaigns - HealthPhone™ provides families with a personal video reference library in an attempt to foster better health practices. These videos focus on social and behaviour change communication (BCC) and are made for individual and small group viewing, learning, and discussion. They are designed to be used as interpersonal communication tools by communities and frontline workers in giving out important information to women and caregivers.

A project of The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust, HealthPhone™'s health and nutrition content is scripted on knowledge prepared jointly by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), World Food Programme (WFP), and The World Bank. Content focuses on: timing births, safe motherhood and newborn health, child development and early learning, breastfeeding, nutrition and growth, immunisation, diarrhoea, coughs and colds and more serious illnesses, hygiene, malaria, HIV, child protection, injury prevention, and emergencies: preparedness and response.

This knowledge, in 61 languages, is pre-loaded on microSD chips for popular low-cost models of mobile phones. No signal is required, nor is there a cost for downloading videos and other media. Users can select: language, health subject, key messages within each subject, age-specific content, multimedia, researched content, and a quiz and score for each subject to test learning. A feedback option at the end of every video message creates a SMS text message sent for content evaluation, additions, and improvements.

The video below, "Polio Immunization: Children up to Five Years of Age Must Be Administered Polio Drops Every Time There Is a Polio Round", is an example of how this resource aims to educate people and so inspire changes in behaviour - specifically, the taking of preventative steps towards reducing the impact of preventable diseases. In this video, mothers learn that all children must be immunised against polio with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) every time it is offered and that is a "proven safe vaccine....Even if your child is suffering from minor ailments such as a fever, cough, cold, diarrhoea or some other illness on the day of Polio immunization, s/he should still be immunized. Polio immunization is a cost free service available at the Government health facilities for your child. Two polio drops are administered along with Routine Immunization at government health facilities and during NIDs[national immunisation days]/SNIDs [sub-national immunisation days] for you[r] and your child's convenience."

Languages: 

English and 60 additional languages

Source: 

Mother Child Trust, accessed on September 26 2013; and HealthPhone website, September 26 2013.

See video