The largest mobile-based maternal messaging programme in the world, it has reached 47.6 million women and their children across 20 states and union territories of India and currently has 3.3 million active users.

Kilkari is a mobile health education service that provides pregnant women, new mothers, and their families with timely, accessible, accurate and relevant information about Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child health. The programme is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) of India and aims to improve families’ knowledge and uptake of life-saving preventative health practices.

Kilkari currently uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to deliver time-sensitive audio information directly to families’ mobile phones. Calls cover the critical time period where the most maternal and child deaths occur, from the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is one year old (72 weeks).

Subscribers receive one pre-recorded call per week, catering to the woman’s stage of pregnancy or the child’s age. Kilkari is available in eight languages (Hindi, Bihari, Oriya, Assamese, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and Gujarati).

Addressing inequities and high risk factors for targeted solutions

The next version of Kilkari (2.0) aims to use multiple delivery channels like IVR, WhatsApp, YouTube and a dedicated mobile application for targeted messages with richer multimedia content which will help navigate the equity challenges while challenging the barriers of patriarchy, to access health services.

In this phase, the programme will adopt a ‘fit-for-purpose’ approach whereby low risk women and children will have access to nuanced voice calls and multimedia content with two-way communication using the WhatsApp messaging platform, based on their access to technology. Those with high-risk conditions and/or equity-encumbrance will be supported via targeted content, 2-way communication, long-term handholding (call centre/WhatsApp support).

The pilot to test the feasibility and effectiveness of WhatsApp as a delivery channel for Kilkari is currently ongoing in two states. The innovation will be scaled up to 2-3 states in 2024-25 and pan India from 2025-26.

The technological innovations will be supported by hand-holding through frontline health workers, self-help groups and ARMMAN’s call centre, to ensure effective last mile delivery of health services.

Focus on system strengthening efforts

We are also working closely with the public health system to improve data quality through capacity building of health workers and strengthening the protocols and processes for data entry. We are facilitating greater integration into the health system by undertaking system-level advocacy efforts and ensuring regular review of Kilkari metrics at all levels of the system. The technological innovations are being supported by targeted Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaigns, incorporating feedback, and enriching content to enhance user experience, improved engagement and listenership.