Crowdsourcing corruption in India’s maternal health services

Joan Okitoi-Heisig at DW Akademie: “…The Mera Swasthya Meri Aawaz (MSMA) project is the first of its kind in India to track illicit maternal fees demanded in government hospitals located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

MSMA (“My Health, My Voice”) is part of SAHAYOG, a non-governmental umbrella organization that helped launch the project. MSMA uses an Ushahidi platform to map and collect data on unofficial fees that plague India’ ostensibly “free” maternal health services. It is one of the many projects showcased in DW Akademie’s recently launched Digital Innovation Library. SAHAYOG works closely with grassroots organizations to promote gender equality and women’s health issues from a human rights perspective…

SAYAHOG sees women’s maternal health as a human rights issue. Key to the MSMA project is exposing government facilities that extort bribes from among the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

Sandhya and her colleagues are convinced that promoting transparency and accountability through the data collected can empower the women. If they’re aware of their entitlements, she says, they can demand their rights and in the process hold leaders accountable.

“Information is power,” Sandhya explains. Without this information, she says, “they aren’t in a position to demand what is rightly theirs.”

Health care providers hold a certain degree of power when entrusted with taking care of expectant mothers. Many give into bribes for fear of being otherwise neglected or abused.

With the MSMA project, however, poor rural women have technology that is easy to use and accessible on their mobile phones, and that empowers them to make complaints and report bribes for services that are supposed to be free.

MSMA is an innovative data-driven platform that combines a toll free number, an interactive voice response system (IVRS) and a website that contains accessible reports. In addition to enabling poor women to air their frustrations anonymously, the project aggregates actionable data which can then be used by the NGO as well as the government to work towards improving the situation for mothers in India….(More)”