Nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) in nine hospitals run by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will now use a mobile application (app) “CommCare” to identify and extend support to victims of domestic violence.

The app has a few questions that will have to be answered by the person being screened. Depending on the response, the nurse will be alerted if the person is a victim.

The app was developed by Dimagi, a Boston-based company, as part of a $500,000 project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Under this project, health workers of hospitals in Shantinagar, Wilson Garden, Kodihalli, Bapujinagar, Moodalpalya, Avalahalli, Sirsi Road and Siddaiah Road will use CommCare to identify clinical signs of domestic violence among their patients.

Explaining the initiative, Suneeta Krishnan, senior epidemiologist at the US-based Research Triangle Institute (RTI), said, “Staff have been trained to recognise signs of domestic violence among patients. They have screened 400 women in the last six months. Of these, 60 reported domestic violence and 20 have come forward to seek legal help.”

Speaking at the launch of the project at Wilson Garden BBMP Maternity Home recently, US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre told presspersons that the application will help health staff to screen patients for domestic violence accurately and consistently. “The health staff will inform vulnerable populations of their rights, choices and available support services,” she said.

“In the long term, we hope this project will reduce societal tolerance of gender-based violence (GBV), increase awareness about GBV-related support services and reduce overall incidence of it,” she said.

Dr. Krishnan said the need to study incidence of domestic violence and support victims was felt in the aftermath of the eight-year Samata Health Study in Bangalore. “We took up a three-year pilot study to identify more cases and explore how victims can be provided care and support, ” she explained.

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