Calling for Health: Can Mobile Phones Improve Access to, and Delivery of, Public Health and Nutrition Programs
Appropriately targeted cash transfers can improve the health of millions of children in developing countries, but limited information about available transfers, coupled with inefficient delivery systems, constrain the reach and impact of many programs. As mobile phones spread across the developing world, there is scope to cost-effectively amplify impact by (a) providing beneficiaries with information about available health-linked cash transfers to improve take-up and (b) gathering information about beneficiaries’ experiences with transfers, which can be used to improve delivery. Building on a major initiative by the Government of Chhattisgarh (GoCG) that distributed over 2 million smartphones to rural Chhattisgarhi women, the researchers propose to test whether a gender-targeted phone-based information service can increase take-up of India’s maternity cash transfer, while improving local-level program functioning and child health. In addition, in partnership with GoCG, the researchers have designed a service, known as Mor Awaaz, which sends women weekly “push calls" with pre-recorded information on good health practices and workfare benefits. The service also includes monthly “pull calls”, where trained enumerators call women to conduct a short survey to measure women’s awareness of, and access to, public health and nutrition-linked services. The researchers plan to randomly vary access to information on Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) and (Janani Suraksha Yojana) JSY through the Mor Awaz platform in order to answer the following research questions:
- Does the provision of health-related information through mobile phones increase the take-up rate of CCTs targeting for child health?
- Does increased take-up lead to improvements in intermediate maternal and child health outcomes?