Bangalore, India (PressExposure) July 29, 2011 -- Mobile healthcare is gaining in popularity in many emerging markets as an empowering tool. mDhil provides everyday healthcare advice via text messaging, desktop and mobile web browser and digital content. The start-up capitalizes on the exploding opportunities provided by the growing mobile industry. As teenagers as a group are active users of cell phones and the internet, it allows them to find reliable information about normally taboo subjects such as sexual health and contraception.
Recent survey shows that whether kissing or holding hands caused pregnancy, a startling 41 per cent of girls in rural Karnataka and 57 per cent in urban Karnataka said yes or that they didn't know. It was this kind of evidence that drew Nandu Madhava attention to the dearth of basic healthcare information not just in rural, but, more surprisingly, in parts of urban India too.
"Large numbers of deaths from easily preventable illnesses happen because of this lack of knowledge," says Madhava, who worked as a translator for doctors when he was in the Peace Corps in the Dominican. "All the medicos I met said that people in emerging markets suffer deeply because of this," he says.
"People aren't aware of things as fundamental as being inoculated for polio or hepatitis. You don't have to reinvent the vaccine; you just have to get the information to people." Finding himself drawn to the idea of starting his own socially conscious enterprise, Madhava began to research public health issues after he moved back to India and found some surprising results.
mDhil announced that it was collaborating with Bharti Airtel to provide SMS-based health packs at the rate of about one rupee per message. Though originally only focused on SMS subscriptions, the launch of 3G data networks in India and the proliferation of low-cost smartphones are enabling mDhil to move towards a web browser where content is free and advertising-supported. "We work with experienced doctors and physicians to provide quality content and put in a lot of effort into being creative," says Madhava. "So it's not a doctor sitting at a desk-we think, for instance, about how we can make a discussion on say, HIV, engaging."
The website offers advice on topics such as cardiac care, stress management, diabetes, maternal care, sexual health, and exercise, weight reduction. "I think it's a very good thing if people have a source to give them advice that helps those lead healthier lives," agrees Dr Samrat Shah, who is a cardiologist, diabetologist and specialist in internal medicine. "Preventive medicine is much better than curative."