Peshawar - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched the Mashoom Health Application to control maternal and infant mortality rates in the region with the use of mobile technology.

The App, launched at a local hotel on Wednesday, has been designed with technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Merged Areas Governance Project (MAGP).

A staffer of the MAGP told this correspondent that the App was handed over to the lady health workers (LHWs) of the merged areas, which have one of the highest maternal mortality (MMR) and infant mortality rates (IMR) in Pakistan and globally.

The MMR in the MA is 140% higher than in KP while the IMR is almost 60% higher in the merged districts than in the province. Only around 50 percent of the women give birth in the presence of a skilled professional, a challenge that requires engaging families and providing them with maternal health literacy but also strengthening the linkage between community health workers, care seekers, and care providers.

The Mashoom Health App aims to bridge the gap in the referral system and connect expectant mothers to remote specialist doctors with the help of lady health workers (LHWs). Via the App, the LHWs will track expectant mothers’ health, keep them informed and guide them about the suitable care facility available nearby. The household heads will also receive nudges for routine check-ups of the patient as well as the importance of skilled birth attendance to improve institutional delivery rates.

“While the last century was about the haves and have-nots, the current century is about the connected and non-connected,” said Atif Khan, KP Minister of Information Technology while addressing the audience at the App’s launch event in Peshawar. He said the innovative use of information technology, especially mobile phones, is a cost-effective and efficient medium of developing formal linkages between different levels of care in the merged areas.

Mashoom Health App handed over to lady health workers of merged areas; App aims to bridge gap in referral system, connect expectant mothers to remote specialist doctors

Adding to the discussion, Chief of KP’s Health Services Reform Unit said: “A large number of initiatives in the health department are focused on improving the health of mothers and children, and the digitization through this App will improve access to health services.”

Speaking on behalf of UNDP Pakistan, MAGP Programme Manager Raluca Eddon said: “To advance our support for inclusive development, we have worked to create a system through health App for women to get the best care at the right hospitals with the right doctor for the complications they may be facing. We are bringing information into homes through mobile phones so they can safely navigate their pregnancies by getting the information they need.”

The App is currently in the testing phase, after which the UNDP MAGP will propose further policy recommendations to the provincial government to strengthen health service delivery and save maternal and infant lives in the region.