In partnership with the UNICEF Innovation Team in New York, Caktus helped develop and deploy a mobile health pilot project in Zambia and Malawi called Project Mwana. As an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project focused on Maternal and Newborn Child Health (MNCH), the project aims to facilitate several key ideas, including:
- secure delivery of HIV (Dry Blood Spot, or DBS) test results from the lab to health clinics by SMS, which we’ve named “Results160″
- appointment reminders for newborn children, or “RemindMi” (Mi = mothers & infants), and
- free-text “chat” for health clinic workers and Community Health Workers, to strengthen communication and patient tracing.
Over the course of several 6 week, in-country visits, Caktus spent time in the field planning, meeting with health workers, and developing software. We worked in a very iterative fashion and incorporated user feedback on a daily basis. Even though we were often pressed for time, pair programming proved very beneficial to the team and the project in general. Part of the mandate for the project is creating local capacity, and hands-on pair programming allowed for the newer or more junior local developers to both in gain a good overview of the codebase and learn from the more seasoned Python/Django developers on the team.
In Zambia, we have 2 on-going local developers, 1 temporary lead developer, 1 on-going local project manager, and 1 on-going project mentor. The team is similar in Malawi, except we have 1 on-going local developer, 1 temporary lead developer (Caktus), 1 on-going local project manager, and 1 on-going project mentor.
Together we collaborated to assess specific needs and build a custom, easy to use SMS platform to ease communication in these rural areas.
HOW IT WORKS
The software uses SMS (text messages) to deliver HIV test results for infants directly to health clinics and enhance communication within the clinics. Using SMS in this way means mothers are informed about their child’s HIV status 1-2 months earlier than would otherwise be possible. If necessary, the child can then be started on critical treatment. The project includes an SMS component for results delivery and as well as a customized web dashboard for reporting and administration.