Midwives are better equipped to improve their knowledge and community’s awareness
Village midwives in Pemalang, and West Lombok are now better equipped to improve their service to women and children in their respective village, thanks to Nokia phone provided to them by UNICEF in partnership with Nokia and XL Axiata as part of a pilot project to apply information and communication technology for health. Through their Nokia phones the midwives will regularly receive key information on maternal and child health for the next 10 months. The messages come from the phone’s feature called Nokia Life and they range from pregnancy, safe motherhood, nutrition, and immunisation to early child development and learning.
“I will discuss these messages with the expecting and breastfeeding mothers in the mothers’ class and Posyandu.” said Afriana a twenty five year old midwife from Kebon Ayu village, West Lombok, one of more than two hundred village midwives who will participate in the project. She said that almost everybody in her village has cellular phone and her patients often contact her through cellular phone.
The head of West Lombok health office, Rachman Sahnan Putra, in the launch of the pilot project in West Lombok, said yesterday that these messages will empower the midwives in promoting healthy practices to the community. “Hopefully this will contribute to our movement towards zero maternal and child death in West Nusa Tenggara province. “, he said. Although the district has managed to reduce maternal death cases to only three so far this year, Putra believes there is room for improvement in enhancing the capacity of health workers. “And since midwives are our frontline service providers who deal directly with the community, this initiative will hopefully affect community’s awareness.”, he said.
The participating midwives in the two districts are clearly energised after receiving the phones. “I will note the messages down and put them in a book so that we can discuss them with cadres and community members although I can only get cellular signal from one room in my house.”, midwife Luluk said. Luluk lives and works in a village called Mareje Timur, one and a half to two hours ride through the hills from the district capital. “Our village is so remote. But it doesn’t matter. As long as I can receive these messages, I will disseminate them. This technology will certainly help me in my duty” she said.
West Nusa Tenggara is one of the provinces with the highest maternal and child health death rate in the country. Cases of child malnutrition are often found in the province. Pemalang is among five districts in Central Java that contribute the most maternal and child deaths and has the second lowest human development index in the province.
For this project, UNICEF and Nokia provide the cellular phones while XL will provide IDR 25,000 worth of balance every month. The pilot will be evaluated after ten month of implementation.