How Indian health-care workers use WhatsApp to save pregnant women

James Eaton

Over the previous five yrs, Patil has skilled hundreds of ASHAs from diverse states to use WhatsApp to debunk false info. 

Maya Patil, an ASHA from Maharashtra’s Kutwad village, says she’s observed comparable optimistic success just after making use of WhatsApp. She’s been working in the industry for 13 many years, and in 2018 she fulfilled a girl in her ninth thirty day period of being pregnant with falling hemoglobin levels who experienced a short while ago been identified with anemia. She tried out to join the girl to the suitable community medical professional, but the spouse and children needed her to use pure approaches to raise her hemoglobin ranges.

Patil requested the expecting girl to start off ingesting pomegranate juice, which has been established to increase hemoglobin degrees, but her mom mentioned pomegranate juice will cause kidney stones. Patil experimented with for quite a few hrs to clarify the science, but the loved ones wasn’t persuaded, nor had been they fascinated in anemia medicines.

As a habit, Patil experienced been getting pics of hundreds of regional newspaper content addressing common health misinformation that have been composed by medical practitioners. In 1, she discovered aspects about the added benefits of pomegranate seeds and juice. She sent the expecting female the report in a WhatsApp message. Then she discovered additional appropriate YouTube films recorded in Marathi, the woman’s language. Just after 10 these types of messages, she last but not least had an effect the family authorized the girl to follow her assistance, and in just 12 days, her hemoglobin ranges experienced enhanced. 

They labored together for three months, and when the woman gave beginning, it was a typical shipping with a nutritious new child weighing six-and-a-half lbs.

Creating a safer space for ladies

Even though they had correctly tackled a terrific deal of misinformation above many yrs, a lot of ASHAs ended up still looking at expecting women who were being much too afraid to talk about their pregnancies for dread of their in-guidelines and husbands. Even in major, ASHA-led team messages, numerous men in the local community responded with “ill-knowledgeable responses,” claims Netradipa Patil, the ASHA union chief.

Maya Patil similarly laments the persistence of harmful medical facts handed down by family. “The primary aim of any bogus news relevant to being pregnant is to make females put up with,” she claims. “Many more mature females say that they had endured these rituals in the course of their being pregnant, so why ought to the upcoming era not deal with this?” 

Maya Patil sits speaking with one-on-one with an expectant mother
Alongside with making sure safer childbirth, ASHA staff are also responsible for furnishing suitable postnatal well being care to local community girls. Listed here, Maya Patil describes how to consider care of a newborn.


So, in 2018 and 2019, ASHAs started to variety hyperlocal all-gals WhatsApp groups. With a smaller sized group of just 15 to 20 expecting females and their shut female family, Netradipa Patil would concentrate on serving to them realize the scientific areas of treatment. “It was hard, but a lot easier than dealing with hundreds of people in one particular go.” Following 6 months of take a look at runs, women in the teams even documented talking about misinformation in their households. 

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