IVR4BABY - Afghanistan
Ten years after the ouster of the Taliban, Afghanistan's maternal mortality rates are still among the world's highest, accounting for over five percent of all annual maternal deaths across the globe. Neonatal mortality is equally abysmal, and fragile gains in the sector remain hindered by severe coverage and access gaps arising from structural capacity constraints and a dearth of skilled midwives providing basic health education to expectant mothers in isolated rural areas. Gender repression and cultural perceptions pose additional challenges. Our solution, IVR4BABY, leapfrogs existing constraints using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that calls pregnant registrants and family members on household mobile phones each week to provide free, culturally adapted voicemails giving listeners a progressive sense of what to expect throughout pregnancy and childbirth. We would raise awareness and demand through targeted public outreach campaigns, conducted in partnership with local radio stations and district shuras. Registrants' usage patterns and feedback would be collected, anonymized and analyzed in a near real-time environment. Given that less than half of expectant mothers in Nangarhar currently receive prenatal care during their pregnancies, we estimate that we could increase the number of pregnant women with access to regular, individualized maternal health information in beneficiary areas by up to 50%. IVR4BABY is designed in close consultation with local populations, is in alignment with priority health interventions identified by theAfghan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) officials, and designed for easy scale-up and sustainable integration into the MoPH's national health connectivity strategy.