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FHS Bangladesh Research Brief 5: Use of mHealth to improve the quality of services of the village doctors

Future Health Systems

Bangladesh continues to be one of the 57 countries with a serious shortage of trained doctors, paramedics, nurses and midwives despite attempt for increased production in the recent years. Village doctors, a group of informally trained practitioners of modern medicines and drugs, are the dominant health care providers in rural areas. Recognizing the importance of their role in the face of serious shortage of trained health care providers, icddr,b has previously tested interventions to improve the quality of their services – especially training on acceptable practice and the creation of a franchise called ShasthyaSena (health soldier). But training alone met with limited success, as the incentives to sell inappropriate medicines and drugs were too strong. To continue to shift these incentives and to improve the quality of services, icddr,b has been testing an mHealth intervention that linked ShasthyaSenas to qualified physicians through a call centre. This brief documents the successes and challenges faced during the first year of implementation of the mHealth intervention.