Mother Child Tracking System suffers set back, courtesy loopholes

ANMs not sending SMS as govt does not pay them mobile allowance

Under this programme, every expectant mother receives cell phone messages with regard to their next immunisation and check up dates. But unfortunately, this ambitious programme of messaging the expectant mothers, which is done only in Karnataka is seeing a setback because of certain loopholes.

The issue is that the MCTS software will automatically send reminders to the expectants and ANMs (Auxiliary Midwife Nurses) on the various treatments to be availed by the expectant mother. Once the expectant has received her immunizations, the ANMs have to send the details to the MCTS service through a SMS, which will get automatically registered in the MCTS software.

Since the government is not reimbursing mobile bills of the ANMs, it is seen that the ANMs have not been sending messages to the server regularly.

An ANM, on conditions of anonymity said that she and many more ANMs like her hail from economically weaker background. Even though the SMS may not seem to be expensive on daily basis, if one counts the SMS on monthly basis, it sums up to be on higher side. “In such a case, if the government does not give us reimbursement how can we carry on the work? Our salary is also not very high,” she said.

Apart from this, another glitch in the system is that Kannada script is not compatible in the mobile. In such a case, Kannada messages appear as distorted boxes and lines on the screen. Most of the rural folks who are not compatible with English language fail to make use of the messages on time. Many of the ANMs themselves are not fluent in English.

Speaking about the lacunae, MCTS State Deputy Director K S Shankar said that the department is aware of the problem and soon Government will issue the ANMs with new simcards. “An order for more than 10,000 SIMs has been placed. The new SIMs will use Prepaid Closed User Group technology and this won’t cost the ANMs,” said Shankar.
“We are also working on sending messages in vernacular languages. A new application has to be installed and at present it is under research,” he says.

The State government started ‘Mother and Child Tracking System’ (MCTS) to keep record of expectant mothers, newborns and all their health details online. Under this programme SMS reminders are being sent on the cell phones of the expectant mothers or their family members with regard to the next date of their immunisation and check up. The software for the programme was designed by National Information Centre.

The data used under MCTS was basically collected for ‘Thayi Card,’ the programme which was brought in about three years ago. The Thayi cards are filled up by the ANMs and attested by the Medical Officer. The information collected for Thayi card is entered in MCTS software installed in every Primary Health Centre across the State. The unique number in the Thayi card will be the mother’s ID.

K S Shankar said that one can receive the complete health record of the mother anywhere in the State with MCTS hence bringing more transparency, he said. As many as 4,25,865 pregnant women and 73,307 newborns have been identified till date in the State since January. Bellary tops in the State with 28,057 identified mothers and 4,869 newborns. In DK district as many as 18,335 pregnant women and 7,131 children have been registered.

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