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TV guide for pregnant women

Guwahati, Dec. 8: A pregnant woman, who cannot read or write, can now access information related to medical care and precautions that she needs to take through Chetna, a television-based interactive information system at a healthcare centre near her home.

The system was inaugurated by mission director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) Assam, Manish Thakur, at the Athiabioi Nonmaja mini primary health centre (PHC) in Changsari of Kamrup district.

The system, initially installed at Changsari and another PHC at north Guwahati as part of a pilot project, is supported by NRHM Assam.

Chetna was developed by a team of teachers and students of IIT Guwahati in collaboration with IBM Research to allow pregnant women, particularly in rural areas of the state, to access information on trimester-based healthcare, management. It is a user-friendly system because it can be operated with voice and certain hand gestures.

“We have developed Chetna with the objective of allowing pregnant women in the state to access information on healthcare facilities available. The system is installed in a television and can be operated by mere human voice and physical gesture. For instance, waving a hand before the television screen will make it start. A pregnant woman can utter ‘first trimester’ and the system will generate all information about the nutritious food that she needs antenatal check-up and much more will be available on screen. The information will be available in Assamese,” said Keyur Sorathia, assistant professor of the department of design of IIT Guwahati, who developed this system along with a team of four.

“The entire system is like an animation film, where a middle-aged woman and a pregnant woman will show what a pregnant women needs to do if she suffers from nausea, the manner she needs to sleep and much more,” said Sorathia.

A single system costs about Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000.

The developers hoped that this device would educate women about the need to access institutional delivery, which in turn will help lower maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the state.

“Since this project will be done in a pilot-project mode, we will provide more such systems to other health centres after taking into account the response of women at north Guwahati and Changsari. Since the entire project has been funded by IBM Research, we can provide a number of these television-based interactive systems to NRHM and other health centres,” said Sorathia.