One non-profit has created a system that uses mobile phones to check up on healthcare workers’ attendance in India.
Though India officially calls healthcare a right for all citizens, doctor and staff absenteeism from public medical facilities prevents many citizens from accessing their legally-entitled care.
Now, one non-profit has created a system that uses mobile phones to check up on healthcare workers’ attendance.
The Indo-Deutch Project Management Society (IDPMS) tracks SMS messages reporting staff absences sent by local patients, and maps the regions and facilities where absenteeism is prevalent. These maps are then made available to locals and policymakers.
“Technology presents great potential to influence the flow of information,” says Oscar Abello, senior program associate at the Results for Development Institute, which created the IDPMS video. “Information used to be spread by the country or the state. People can now start from the ground level to create a feedback loop, so the government can finally be held accountable.”
IDPMS works in southern India’s state of Karnataka, and focuses on bringing accountability to rural services provided by the government. The organization found rural villagers deprived of health services, reporting that doctors only showed up to the public health centers two or three days each week.
Despite their jobs requiring five and a half days of weekly attendance and full time on-call availability, the IDPMS study found doctors available for only four hours per day and entirely unavailable for 100 days each year. As a result, many impoverished Indians turn to expensive services at private hospitals.
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