Developing an Interactive Voice Response System for behavioral change communication in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Background: Ethiopia is undergoing a heavy health care burden, mainly attributed to communicable diseases and nutritional deficiencies. The Federal Ministry of Health aims to improve health through the Health Extension Program (HEP). On the other hand, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Ethiopia has shown a significant increase. The use of voice message can deliver the kind of universal access, including the portion of population that doesn’t know how to read, to support prevention services. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a phone system technology that allows a computer to interact with humans by using pre-recorded or computer generated voice responses via Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) signal. Objective: The main objective of the project is developing and testing the BCC-IVR system to improve health outcomes of selected major health problems in Ethiopia. Methodology: The requirement collection used guided discussion with 25 participants, 12 residents and 13 health care professionals and document review. After data collection, functional and nonfunctional requirements were identified and analyzed using UML’s Use Case diagram, Class diagram, Activity diagram and Sequence diagram. Implementation: During implementation this project the prototype has shown how to create the services in Asterisk. The flow of BCC-IVR system is implemented in the dial plan and the user interacts by using telephone keypad with the asterisk server. The IVR system has a three-tier architecture model made up of presentation, application/logic, and storage layers. After implementation, the BCC-IVR system is evaluated by 9 English and Amharic speakers to identify and correct functionality issues and ensure usability. Result: The result of this project is a Behavioral Change Communication Interactive Voice Response system accessible from any phone under the same network. The resulting BCC-IVR system includes information on Reproductive care, Sanitation and environmental hygiene, Nutrition, Cancer and Periodical Screening and treatment and First-Aid. The information on the health topics is presented in English and Amharic Languages. Conclusion: Universal access is the important while providing information. People should be able to choose the access method that suits them. Literate people might still be more comfortable with written information, but the need for voice information is also there, mainly for illiterate and visually impaired people. The IVR system is accessible, helpful, inexpensive to implement and easy to learn tool to deliver Behavioral Change Communication Messages.



Voice Response System for behavioral change