Launch of Internet in a Box South Asia

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE from the Mother and Child Health and Education Trust (MCHET)! 10th April 2018

Healthcare information is the essential starting point for people seeking to care for themselves and their families and access to it is particularly important in low-resource settings where there is no, or inadequate, contact with trained, well-informed health workers.  A lack of access results in the inability to take appropriate action, indecision, delay or incorrect treatment, all of which contribute to avoidable suffering and death.  Ensuring access to authoritative and strategic information on matters that affect people’s health remains a global challenge that so far has eluded a solution.

Health in your hands
Putting healthcare information in the hands of those who need it most.

Access to the Internet & Bridging the Digital Divide

Could the Internet and the ever-increasing presence of mobile phones offer a way forward?  For sure, the Internet is a unique platform that now enables direct communication among nearly 3.5 billion people and is fast becoming the world’s major portal to humanity’s accumulated knowledge.  Nevertheless, about 4 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, still do not have access to the Internet, according to a 2017 United Nations report.  In India, only just more than a third of the country’s 1.35 billion people are connected to the Internet, leaving over 800 million without access.  And the Internet connections that India does have are unevenly distributed: while urban India has 61.9 Internet subscriptions per 100 people, rural India can only muster 13.7.

Connecting the Unconnected

Thus, for the unconnected over 60% of Indians, who are predominantly female, low-income and rural, lack of access to the Internet can affect every facet of their lives – from how they manage the health of their families to how they communicate with each other and ultimately how long they will live.

Internet in a Box

Collaborating with Wiki Project Med Foundation and HealthPhone Internet-in-a-Box has developed an offline distribution system for medical and healthcare content geared specifically to South Asia.

The Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) device is a complete single-board computer with an in-built Wi-Fi hotspot that allows for easy distribution of information in places where access to the Internet is limited, controlled, not affordable or simply unavailable.  Within a range of 50 to 100 meters, up to 32 people at any one time can connect to the device with a mobile phone or computer to access and download its content, free of any charge. It also functions as a mini app store in that those connected to it can download and install a number of offline apps.  IIAB does not offer a connection to the Internet or to content beyond that stored in the Box itself.

Medical and Health Internet-in-a-Box is available from today for the costs of the hardware, taxes and shipping (₹1,999. / US$30.).

Partnerships and Content

This South Asia Edition of Medical and Health Internet-in-a-Box contains:

  • Over 1,000 HealthPhone healthcare & nutrition videos across 22 Indian languages,
  • 47 HealthPhone mobile apps across 18 Indian languages,
  • All of Wikipedia Medical Encyclopaedia in English and Farsi,
  • Full Wikipedia in 23 Indian Languages,
  • The Global Emergency Medicine Wiki, and
  • Children for Health’s 100 Health Messages in 5 Indian languages in collaboration with Translators without Borders – see below).

The focus of HealthPhone’s content is malnutrition, particularly in India which is home to 40% of the world’s stunted children and 20% of the world’s maternal and child deaths.  Malnourished children, particularly those with severe acute malnutrition, have a higher risk of death from common childhood illness such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.  Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age.

Many organisations and individuals have been involved with making this device a reality and special thanks are due to Wikipedians, the folks at Kiwix and those at Internet-in-a-Box.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and UNICEF India produced the videos.  The three HealthPhone mobile apps were developed in partnership with HealthPhone by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) Hyderabad, a research and development organisation under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.

The possibilities are limitless.  We believe this device has significant potential both to revolutionise the way unconnected people access information and also to benefit the more than 4 billion people around the world who do not have reliable Internet access.

Please forward this announcement widely to your colleagues and networks.  Thank you!

The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust (MCHET) is a charitable trust that strongly advocates for the power of knowledge to educate, motivate, empower and inspire communities, particularly women, to improve health practices for the benefit of children. HealthPhone is a strategic and creative initiative of MCHET. 

About Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders works with Children for Health to ensure simple and clear global health messaging reaches millions of children in India, in the languages that they can best comprehend.

Translators without Borders envisions a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based non-profit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by connecting nonprofit organizations with a professional community of volunteer translators, building local language translation capacity, and raising awareness of language barriers. Originally founded in 1994 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières (now its sister organization), Translators without Borders translates more than eight million words per year. In 2012, the organization established a Healthcare Translators’ Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya.