• Blog post

    For thousands of people living in rural Bangladesh, Health Assistants (HAs) and Family Welfare Assistants (FWAs)—collectively called field workers—are the first line of health care, and for many, the only cadre of health professional they have access to for health, population and nutrition (HPN) information and services. It therefore becomes very important that these field workers have the necessary skills and confidence to provide quality counseling services.

    Field Workers in Bangladesh with their Netbooks

    Field workers in Bangladesh with their netbooks.

    Credit: Vanessa Mitchell

    The Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) implemented an eHealth pilot whereby 300 field workers (150 HAs and 150 FWAs), mostly women, received netbook computers loaded with digital resources (brochures, flipcharts, videos, job aids, etc.) and eLearning courses to facilitate HPN counseling and also improve their own knowledge. The results are in, and knowledge levels for both FWs and mothers in communities increased dramatically across HPN during the short 3.5 month implementation period.

    Just as important, and not a finding we necessarily expected, is that the netbooks empowered the field workers. During our routine monitoring, the research team conducted interviews with FWs and found that having the technology and a wealth of information at their fingertips made them feel proud, confident, and important. In fact, the elevated confidence observed from having the netbook actually changed how members of the community perceived them. Their improved social status resulted in more people seeking out HPN services from them.

  • Blog post
    A community health worker in Bangladesh shows clients videos

    A community health worker in Bangladesh shows clients videos.

    Courtesy of Vanessa Mitchell

    The Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) and its partner the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) are learning many lessons from the eHealth pilot in Bangladesh. Three hundred netbooks have been deployed with an eToolkit of BCC materials for counseling, and eight eLearning video courses designed to improve health and family planning field worker knowledge and skills.

    While we have yet to complete our post assessment, we’ve seen how field workers with low literacy and no previous exposure to computers can easily use technology, how their status is elevated in communities from use of the netbooks, and how important health knowledge, communication, and integration skills have improved.

    What we have witnessed at the community level is an intention to adopt healthier behaviors among some of the clients of netbook recipient field workers. An important finding has been the preference of the field workers to counsel their clients using the videos in the eToolkit, as well as their own eLearning course videos. The monitoring team has heard time and time again from both field workers and their clients that educational and entertaining videos are in very high demand.