Sarthi Sandeshwahini

A mobile video van for promotion of Family Planning in MPV districts of Uttar Pradesh

Family planning is one of the most cost-effective health interventions in reducing maternal and infant mortality and is an important social determinant in empowering women to exercise their reproductive choices. The recent data reveals that Uttar Pradesh, with a fertility rate of 2.7 children per married couple, witnesses a large number of unplanned pregnancies and consequent pressure on the health system. Ensuring universal access to quality family planning information and services through multiple service delivery channels is paramount in achieving the SDG goals committed by the country. The problem is further compounded by the fact that the state also witnesses a large proportion of early marriages and early child bearing due to societal pressure. Social and behaviour change communication thus is of paramount importance to tackle such health behaviour issues prevailing in the society. Audio-visual shows with relevant health messages and edutainment approach hold great potential if appropriately clubbed with interpersonal counselling by community based front line workers. In the past ‘Sehat Sandeshwahini’ a mobile video van project, funded by NHM, was implemented at scale by SIFPSA covering the entire state in 2015-16 to publicize various NHM supported schemes and services amongst the target audiences. Over 30,000 villages were covered during the two phases of the program. The independent assessment of the program revealed that 75 percent audience desired repeat of such audio visual shows through mobile vans providing information and generating awareness on health areas, at least once a year.

Based on a set of combined health indices, Government of India recently identified about 145 low performing vulnerable districts across several states and launched Mission Parivar Vikas (MPV) with additional resources and support for intensive and improved family planning information and quality service delivery. In Uttar Pradesh, 57 districts have been included under the MPV program that need focused attention. The Hon’ble Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh on April 02, 2018 launched ‘Sarthi Sandeshwahini’ program. Under the program, 57 Audio Visual Vans (one for each MPV district) were flagged off to hold intensive publicity and generate awareness round the year to promote family planning schemes and services amongst masses in the assigned districts. The entire field operations were assigned to four media agencies hired through competitive bidding. The concerned District PMUs were assigned the responsibility to oversee and manage the video van program in each MPV district, including roaster on blocks and village locations to be covered each day by these vans.

These branded audio-visual vans, fully equipped with all modern audio-visual system including LED screen, conduct shows in each sub-center village, covering 3 to 4 sub-centre villages per day. The AV vans play specially created audio-visual messages on various special benefits offered under the MPV programs. The audio messages also keep playing even when the van is on the move. Publicity materials like handbills in local language are also distributed by the van staff as takeaways to reinforce the messages. Each van also has a trained family planning cum health counsellor to provide on-site counselling and referral support for interested couples for family planning, linking them to the nearest health facility. The team in each AV Van coordinates with local ASHAs, ANM and Panchayat member of the assigned village, while the counsellor interacts with the audience and responds to any queries raised by the audience. The District Health Education Officer and the Block level officials ensure close monitoring of the programme.

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