March 25th, 2020 — The Hindi audio content we have developed can be accessed here, based on a FAQ collated by us from various GoI/WHO sources (some open questions remain for which we will be happy to get inputs). If you can translate this content into other languages then do let us know.
We will next prepare content to counter significant fear in the communities, and the stigma that is getting attached to migrants who are returning from work and with anybody sick in the neighbourhood.
Further, keep a tab on this sheet where we are constantly adding more content on news and localized announcements for districts where we are working, to prevent misinformation, and also collating voices from the community. Bear with us as we get more organized on this. Write to us at email@example.com if you want to use any of this material to write blogs or articles for the mainstream media, about ground realities in rural areas.
Our services as outlined below are now live, we are expanding district by district to learn as we go along and course correct, to avoid any harm or confusion.
March 23rd, 2020 — We have set up a district-wise response network in partnership with several organizations. Read note here. Our goal is to provide authentic information and advisory to rural and low-income communities, and to strengthen the capacity of the health system to refer, track, and counsel probable cases of COVID-19. Three services are being launched:
- Access to FAQs, news, entertaining and engaging content, quizzes, etc for communities to deal with COVID-19
- Self-assessment survey especially on behalf of the elderly and very young children, to provide crisp actionable feedback
- Referral service to guide people to the right facilities, track their progress over time, and counsel them on appropriate action
So far we have organizations like Healing Fields Foundation, iKure, CRY, Digital Green, and the Piramal Foundation to provide referral advice and tracking support in several districts of Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Orissa, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. We are looking to add more partners, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a connect with FLWs. Additionally, we will run information and advisory on all of the Mobile Vaani platforms (across 20+ districts in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Delhi NCR, and Tamil Nadu), as well as several partner-led platforms including with Digital Green, Enable India, and CREA, and link the various services from these platforms as well.
For prospective partners, if you need to learn more about the services and the process, see the tutorial slides here. In case you can assist with moderation of the voice-recordings, also see the quick-moderation guide here.
March 21st, 2020 — At Gram Vaani, our priorities have suddenly shifted to combating the global Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Along with ensuring the safety of our staff and volunteer teams, we are striving to leverage our technology platforms and capabilities to support rural and low-income communities in this crucial time. Public health researchers from the University of Montreal and computer science students and faculty from IIT Delhi are working alongside us in this effort. Download a concept note here, and read below for the latest updates.
Awareness building: The right information delivered through the right platforms will inform and empower communities to stay safe and healthy during the crisis. This includes those in hard-to-reach segments (low literacy, rural and without Internet) and those who are at greater risk of suffering from the disease’s double burden of ill health and poverty, particularly women in their roles as family caregivers and frontline workers such as CHWs, ASHAs and AWWs. Our team is developing suitably contextualized audio content using authentic sources from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India and the World Health Organization. This content can be used by all of our partners, and we will also be playing it on our wide networks in rural Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and low-income communities in Delhi NCR. This includes:
- Summary advice on symptoms, prevention measures, care, and other useful information including links to the Government of India helpline phone numbers.
- Tutorials to help health workers in healthcare facilities keep abreast with new training protocols or guidelines for infection prevention and control or contact tracing.
We have prepared this FAQ from various resources. Following are some additional important open questions about contextualizing the advisories for rural and low-income populations. Please do take a look in case you have any clarity, or share with others who can experiment and propose appropriate solutions.
Countering misinformation: Authentic information about the COVID-19 status in the country and the world, including the government strategy, is going to be imperative to counter any misinformation that could surface on other media platforms especially if the going gets tough.
Community feedback: Our mission always has been to reverse the flow of information, and make it bottom-up instead of top-down. We are keeping alert to listening to problems that our users are facing, not just on health but also on the economic front, and we are channeling these to the regional and national media outlets.
This is being combined with a few technological solutions we are readying as an emergency preparedness step.
Outbound messaging system for frontline staff: With frontline cadre distributed across vast geographies and with dynamically evolving disease prevention and control procedures, it is essential to keep them updated on the latest protocols to follow. The automated system can send correct information to the functionaries in a real-time manner. We are preparing an FAQ for frontline health workers.
Case-reporting system for frontline staff: The system enables frontline staff to report information about probable cases, their age, gender, number of family members, travel history, etc. This information can be collated and sent to state case-tracking systems. When coupled with data about verified cases, this can become an important indicator to predict future outbreak clusters. This will also help expand the capacity of the state helplines, many of which are run manually right now. We are also in conversation with the District Health Information System (DHIS2) team from the University of Oslo to potentially integrate our case-reporting system to their dashboard and case-tracking system.
This is a draft IVR structure for an integrated case-reporting and FAQ system.
Smartform based collection of phone numbers from community members to get prepared for mass messaging: Frontline staff are not adept at using digital systems to provide information, and mass-training on how to use these tools is not feasible in the current circumstances either. We have therefore developed specially formatted paper forms which can be digitized rapidly through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tools. We are rapidly working to improve its accuracy. Phone numbers thus collected can be linked to specific locations and with care-of health workers and other frontline staff, so that response in case of follow-ups can be quick as well.
Query resolution and self-assessment system: We are building an automated voice-based question-answering system wherein people can call to seek information and ask questions, in as seamless a way as possible. The system will provide automated responses to the queries, or if their queries are not resolved then we will try to connect them with a network of informed volunteers who can match callers with pre-recorded and standardized audio capsules. A self-assessment system can also be setup to guide people on next steps of whether they might be in need for testing and should contact the government helplines or testing centers. We will try to also enable this in a text-format on the Facebook messenger and Whatsapp channels.
This is a draft IVR structure to host FAQs and a self-assessment survey.
Outbound messaging to community members will provide correct awareness messaging in a localized manner. In view of social distancing advisory by governments to combat the disease, entertaining ways of awareness building like quizzes can help alleviate anxiety and panic related to the disease. Self-evaluation of the disease at the community level can also be designed based on technically approved guidelines.
Gram Vaani’s Community media platform, Mobile Vaani, with its wide network helps reach out to underserved populations (rural, low literate) and provides an option to not only access information but also contribute towards reporting the ground situation. This community reporting will be instrumental to inform the world about health and economic challenges that the community is facing. We especially request our partners to contact us for any further assistance that we can provide.