mDiabetes Program

Arogya World Reached One Million in India, Fulfilling Our 2011 CGI Commitment!

This video on mDiabetes was shown at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting


The largest diabetes prevention mHealth program in the world.

mdiabetes logoArogya World has completed mDiabetes, a Commitment made at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. With this groundbreaking effort, Arogya World has reached more than one million people from all over India with text messages in 12 languages about diabetes and its prevention, and has tested the program’s effectiveness in bringing about behavior change known to prevent diabetes.

mDiabetes was designed and implemented by Arogya World in partnership with Nokia Life. Other partners include Emory University, Johnson & Johnson, Aetna, Biocon and Ipsos.

The Scientific Rationale for mDiabetes

Sixty-plus million Indians live with diabetes and one million die from it each year. Indians get the disease an average of 10 years earlier than counterparts in the West, often in their 30s and 40s. If untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, amputations and kidney failure.

And mobile phones are widely used in India, throughout different geographic regions and socio-economic backgrounds. There are said to be about 900 million cell phone subscribers in India.

Importantly, the WHO emphasizes that approximately 80% of heart disease and diabetes, and 40% of cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyles such as avoiding tobacco use, eating healthy foods and increasing daily physical activity.

mDiabetes Design

The mDiabetes initiative plans to reach 1 million people in India with text messages about diabetes prevention. Photo courtesy of Nokia.

The mDiabetes initiative plans to reach 1 million people in India with text messages about diabetes prevention. Photo courtesy of Nokia.

mDiabetes has been designed as a population-level nationwide public health intervention using mobile technology to establish health behaviors known to prevent diabetes.

The program has been successfully deployed in a large population. In 2012, Nokia Life helped Arogya World recruit 1,052,633 persons who opted-in to receive mDiabetes text messages. Messages were provided free to the consumers twice a week for six months. Participants came from all over India and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

Arogya World developed the 56 text messages with Emory University in late 2011, based on science and behavior change theory, and then, with Ipsos, consumer-tested them in simulated conditions as well as in the real world. Arogya World then refined the messages, adapting them culturally for Indian audiences based on consumer feedback and review by its Behavior Change Task Force. Nokia Life provided the translation and transmission infrastructure, and transmitted more than 56 million mDiabetes text messages to the consumers throughout 2012.

Arogya World assessed program effectiveness by comparing responses of 950 consumers, based on telephone interviews, before and after they received the messages, and also by comparing them with the responses of a similar number of consumers who did not receive mDiabetes messages. Detailed analysis of program effectiveness is ongoing.


First effectiveness results from mDiabetes are encouraging. Consumers’ awareness of diabetes and its complications increased, and promising trends in behavior change were noted: an 11% increase in daily exercise, a 15% increase in the intake of 2-3 servings of fruits a day, and an 8% increase in 2-3 servings of vegetables a day. The self-reported data are statistically significant.

Consumer reactions have been generally positive and show how mDiabetes has impacted people’s lives.

Next Steps

Once effectiveness is fully established, scale-up of the program to reach and help millions more in India is a planned next step. Arogya World is seeking funds to make this happen. Expansion geographically to other countries, in partnership with global health organizations, governments and private sector partners, is also being explored. Finally, finding ways to appeal to consumers with a diabetes prevention ‘app’, with graphics and video-rich content on diabetes and its complications, including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure etc., is also being pursued. We believe mDiabetes can be a core part of the chronic disease prevention model for the developing world.