Considering the pool of benefits provided by the mobile phones, it is fascinating to see how India outmaneuvers the world when it comes to penetration of mobile usage particularly in health and agriculture sector. As per the Information and Communications for Development 2012 report, the reason to highlight only these sectors is that both hold intrinsic footprints in the Indian economy without exceptions.
With more than 50% of the total agricultural stratum using basic mobile phones, the service providers are able to provide SMS-related services extensively. There are numerous companies coming up with innovative ways to deliver critical information to the farmers and the allied individuals. The information shared via SMS includes weather forecast, updates on pest and diseases, commodity pricing, market access etc.
According to the World Bank, some of the noteworthy companies to start such initiative are ITC with its E-Choupal and Thompson Reuter’s RML. As a result of such programs, the farmers are not only able to improve the efficiency and quality of their output, but have also reduced the risks in several areas of the supply chain. Its reach has been as high as 40 lakh farmers spread across hundreds of villages in 13 states. As the subscription to these services is through a Toll Free Number, the participation adds upto millions.
The benefits of the mobile usage have not missed to cover the Healthcare sector either. Apart from facilitating better connectivity between the patients and doctors, it has overcome the challenges such as accessibility, quality, affordability, resource matching etc through exchange of information through mDhil. Being an online information platform, it makes available health-related information via mobile web, SMS and digital content at the price of Re. 1/day. As the charges are minimal and in line with the purchasing power, it avails health-benefits to majority, acclaims the World Bank report.
Another remarkable contribution is by Health Management and Research Institute (HMRI) which send across mobile Medical Units (MU) to areas that lack public health care services. This has resulted into increase in coverage by 25% due to its affordability factor while medical treatments have been provided to almost 3 lakh patients over the phone.
To conclude we can say that with such innovative and valuable service providers taking advantage of rapidly growing mobile network, we can expect an incredible/significant transformation in the quality of services. The appeal of mobile phone specially in rural areas, have the potential of changing human lives for good and the best.