Health App Review: NHP Swasth Bharat

This weekend, we tried our hands on the National Health Portal’s ‘Swasth Bharat’ android app for public health awareness, downloadable for free from Google Play Store. This is one tiny yet quite useful health app for health conscious people, not only in India, but anywhere in general. (it is in English, though the name is in Hindi). What impressed us specially, is its tiny size (2.85 MB) and no dependence on internet connection, that makes it better usable in rural areas where healthcare and telecom services are scarce. The app can be a quick revision and co-reading for PSM papers to health science students. However, if you are a healthcare professional, you are in only for a quick go-through just for fun. So here goes the Dr. Herbz review –

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NHP Swasth Bharat Splash screen

Name: NHP Swasth Bharat (‘Healthy India’)
Developed by: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. Of India
Platform: Android (Version 2.3+)
Size: 2.85 MB
Permissions: No special permissions required.
Intended user: common public, semi-skilled health workers.
Interface language: English.
Maturity level: 18+ on Google Play
(Though, from the content overall, we think it could well be rated for 15+ readership in most countries. In fact, some of the information, such as about alcoholism and adolescent health, as specifically targeted at the teens.)

Navigation:
Menus are very simple and intuitive. The app starts with a splash-screen and brings up a main menu showing the three sections of info it provides.

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Main menu

We will describe head-by-head what we found in each section –

The first part ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ was by far the most impressive and useful one in our view. It covers info on various aspects of personal healthcare in a very well organised and intuitive manner. Various graphics and multimedia have been effectively used wherever possible without increasing app size. Here are some screenshots that speak for themselves.

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The second part, ‘Diseases A-Z’, describes the most common diseases ailing public health today, in simple and easily understandable language.
Most of the content is sourced from CDC USA, NHS UK and WHO sources, so there is quite good global reliability and relevance to the information. However, what itched us is that the treatment part is severely cut short at only first aid. This reminds the user of the Government’s inclination towards discouraging self treatment by people, in view of increasing availability of government health services even in rural areas. The list of diseases itself is limited only to diseases of highest prevalence/concern from the Indian population’s point of view. So, you may miss out on info about some of your locally important diseases if you live elsewhere, but can’t blame the developers – it’s meant only for India.

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The third and last section, ‘Symptoms A-Z’,impressed us the least. It gives some of the commonest symptoms, their differential diagnosis and recommended actions to be taken. Though it is still quite good, those who have read the old school ‘When there is no doctor available’ manuals published by the ministry in earlier decades, will find it very disappointing. Here again, one notices the palpable lack of detailed diagnosis and treatment related info, which used to be covered in earlier publications, but is now left for the doctors to elaborate. Still, it surely becomes a useful resource to know the red flags where one should stop experimenting self-treatment and approach a health professional.

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So that’s quite all of it.
To summarize –

Pros
* Lucid, easily understandable info.
* Works offline, small app size.
* Reliably sourced well organized info.
* Visually appealing simple menus.

Cons
* No treatment info beyond first-aid.
* Available only in English, when the target user base is better comfortable with Hindi or regional languages.
* App available only in Android version, while most of rural India can’t afford Android smartphones.

Bottom line
The app is a must-have for all health conscious people who want to become health aware as well, but lack any formal education to that end. It also serves as a brief reference and guideline book for health workers.

Our Rating
Rating such an app will largely depend on the level of knowledge the user has about health sciences. Still, from the point of view of the intended user base, our rating is –
****O
4/5

Overall, it is certainly worth the tiny bit of time and money it takes to download and go through the app, for everybody.

Google play store download page link –

NHP Swasth Bharat

Don’t forget to share your own reviews and ideas for the app in comments. They mean a lot to us.

Stay healthy, stay happy!

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