Post Date
Apr 18 2024

Impact Evaluation of Super Abbu: A Speech based MNCH Platform in Pakistan

This project is led by Dr. Agha Ali from SBASSE. According to statistics, Pakistan has the highest neonatal mortality rate in the world (44.2 per 1000 live births), accounting for 7% of the world’s neonatal deaths, and among the worst maternal mortality rate in the region (178 per 100,000 live births). These indicators remain high despite the best efforts of the government and NGOs to leverage modern practices and technology to improve maternal, new-born, and child health (MNCH). To this end, the province of Punjab, Pakistan has hired 48,000 Lady Health Workers (LHWs), has introduced multiple information communication technology (ICT)-based health monitoring systems, and has launched the Punjab Health Line staffed by 150 doctors 24/7. LHW effectiveness has been limited, however, given the size of Punjab (100+ million people). LHWs are expected to visit nine homes per day and in 40 minutes cover a long syllabus and perform several tasks. Similarly, high deployment costs, low smartphone penetration, and low literacy rates in rural areas have limited the effectiveness of ICT-based interventions. The Punjab Health Line has been ineffective for more mundane reasons—its adoption has been very slow despite extensive publicity. This project developed, piloted, and proposed to expand and to experimentally evaluate a speech-based service that connects expectant fathers to doctors and helps them to interact with each other over a simple phone call. This service, dubbed Super Abbu (Super Dad in English), addresses the challenges faced by existing efforts in several new and important ways. Currently, the entire public health infrastructure in Punjab is geared towards providing information to women hence this service targets fathers and aims at generating useful information on frequently asked questions for public health professionals to better understand their population. It supplements LHWs by providing information between LHW visits in an appropriate manner for those who are illiterate and do not have smartphones. Expectant fathers can leave questions without synchronous calls and access past questions and answers asked by themselves and other users.