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Staff Blog

Staff Blog

Dimagi Presents at UNICEF Haiti Event

by Gillian Javetski

17 September 2014

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UNICEF-Haiti hosted a live web event on September 10th to highlight innovative technology solutions being used to help the most vulnerable children in Haiti.

Dimagi was invited to share our experience deploying CommCare in Haiti through the USAID-funded Sérvices de Santé de Qualité pour Haiti (SSQH) project, implemented by Pathfinder International and URC. Dimagi Haiti Field Manager, Amy Cooper, was asked to present on the panel, which can be watched here (note is in French).

In the presentation, Amy highlighted our work to improve child health. Our current tool helps to evaluate children’s nutrition status, monitor the delivery of vaccines to children, help identify children with danger signs, and create linkages between remote communities and health facilities.

The event brought together government officials, private sector CEOs, the local partner of Kore Fanmi and Dimagi. In addition to Amy, speakers included: Rose Anne Auguste, Minister of Human Rights, Maarten Bout from Digicel, Patrick Sagna, Chief of Development at Surtab, Danilia Altidor, General Director of IHSI, and Josue Andre, General Director of Heart to Heart.

 


Mobile Applications for Healthcare Workers

by Mohini Bhavsar, Dimagi West Africa Senior Regional Manager

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Written by Dimagi West Africa Senior Regional Manager Mohini Bhavsar, this blog was originally published as part of the United Nations Foundation’s CHANGEMAKERS series. The series highlights creative minds, businesses and entrepreneurs solving everyday issues around poverty, hunger, disease and inequality. You can read the original blog post here

In May of 2011, I moved to India for a one-year fellowship with Dimagi, a social enterprise that develops mobile applications for healthcare workers in low-resources settings. I went into the year committed to exploring the potential of harnessing mobile health in places where there are no doctors and few computers, but a growing population of cell phone users.

One of my first projects with Dimagi was in Kaushambi, a district in Uttar Pradesh with a high rate of maternal and newborn deaths. We built a mother and child health application for 10 community health workers using Dimagi’s platform, CommCare.

Today that project has grown from 10 to 250 health workers in the district, all running their mobile app on basic phones. With CommCare, health workers can register and track pregnant women, use checklists that remind women of their next checkup, and share audio and visual messages with pregnant women about delivering facility deliveries and breastfeeding. The women relate to the messages recorded in the familiar of voice Suman Prajapati, a local health worker who provides basic services in her village.

Dimagi now has more than 50 projects across India, and is now expanding into West Africa, to track nutrition, agriculture, education, gender based violence, and women’s empowerment.

After three years in India, last month I took a leap and moved to Senegal to lead a growing field team of seven French-speaking staff who are deploying mobile tools in West Africa. West Africa is ahead of the mobile health curve, and here we hope to create more ways to scale mobile innovations to improve health and quality of life across the region.


Four Months Out of Peace Corps, Reflections about mHealth

by Claire Cravero, Program Analyst

28 August 2014

DSC02643Last Monday I was at the Dimagi HQ office in Cambridge when I got the cryptic message; something had happened in village. I knew I had to go home to make the call. Something wasn’t right.

It’s been over four months since my Peace Corps service ended, but I still wake up some mornings surprised to find myself back home. I spent over two years living in a village working with frontline health workers on maternal and child health projects. Electricity came to my village soon after I arrived and my counterparts began calling and texting me to schedule our community health activities. When we ran out of polio vaccines during a vaccination campaign, we could call the health post to ask them to deliver more. When a woman went into labor, we could call a bush taxi to take her to the health center. As I made rounds with the other health workers in village I started listing the chronic barriers to health in our community that could be addressed with the use of these new ubiquitous cell phones.

I found Dimagi’s website a few months before the end of my service and was completely humbled by the scope of work they were pursuing with exactly this logic: mobile technology, if designed appropriately, can be a game changer for public health. I was so excited by their projects and vision that I trailed their West Africa team in Dakar. Dimagi agreed to let me help support the West Africa Team from the Cambridge office after my service ended.

Read the rest of this post…


Getting Schooled: Dimagi India Hosts First mEducation Roundtable

by Erin Quinn, India Field Manager

15 August 2014

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On July 24 Dimagi hosted a Round Table discussion on using mobile technology in education. Representatives from 14 leading NGOs and education organizations from across India came together to collaborate and share ideas about mobile technology and its place in the education sector.

We started the conversation by talking about the numerous needs and challenges in education programming today. We quickly saw that though each organization ran separate programs, all faced similar problems, like low teacher quality, or difficulty conducting monitoring and evaluation of programs. The first half the day consisted not only of this small group discussion, but also a general overview of mEd programs and Dimagi’s open source tools. It included a demo some of our existing CommCare education applications used by organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children. We were also fortunate enough to have Rupinder Kaur of JPAL present a session on Theory of Change in M&E which helped organizations think about mobile phones as more than just a tool for dissemination.

The second half of the day allowed time for organizations to speak with each other and Dimagi facilitators about features they would like to see in future applications. Participants split into four groups based on similar use cases, and discussed how they would build and implement a sample mEd app. They outlined who the users would be, what cases they would track, and how the general workflow would go. Groups also included types of questions they would ask, and gave suggestions on how they could use the data they collected. The exercise helped organizations see what the process was in building an app, and helped everyone think about how they could take mEd tools and use them effectively in their own organizations.

Overall the Round Table was a great success. All the organizations were very interested in collaborating—both with Dimagi, and with each other—which made a great environment for discussion. The Dimagi Team was able to learn a great deal from all of the organizations about the pain points they face in running education programs, and how we can modify and build our mobile tools to better serve their needs. We look forward to collaborating more with this great group of changemakers as Dimagi continues to break into the education sector!

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CommCare Gets Hitched!

by Erin Quinn, Dimagi India Field Manager

16 July 2014

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Like many girls, at a very young age, my sister and I made a pact that we would be each other’s maid of honor in our weddings. Sure we might end up being in our friend’s weddings, but we wanted to lock down at least one maid of honor position in our lifetime, and a sister seemed like the best bet. Unfortunately for my sister Sarah, when her then-boyfriend Andrew proposed, I was 8,000 miles away working in our India field office. So what do you do when you’re thousands of miles away, virtually useless for most wedding planning activities, but still want to pitch in? Well, if you work at Dimagi, you build an app. And that’s exactly what I did.

One thing that is so great about CommCare is its versatility. We can just as easily program a CommCare app to ask questions about prenatal care, school attendance, or, in this case, Sarah and Andrew’s favorite date night spot (hint: it’s a popular fro-yo place in Minneapolis). The purpose of this app was half guidebook half entertainment.

The first module had information about hotel, church, and wedding reception logistics. It also included a form on Twin Cities sightseeing, so out-of-towners could get a tailored list of cool things to do in Minneapolis/ St. Paul according to what sort of attractions they wanted to visit.

The second module consisted of a quiz about Sarah and Andrew, from childhood through engagement. Did you know that Andrew used to report himself as a lost child at events just because he liked talking to policemen? Did you know Sarah plugged her ears and cried at fireworks until high school? If you did, you’d be one of our top scorers on the Sarah & Andrew quiz! Guests submitted their quiz answers throughout the weekend, and at the end, we got to see how well family and friends knew the couple.

The third and final module was a place for people to submit their favorite pictures and videos of the day. The photographer was amazing, and got some awesome shots of everyone throughout the day. But we wanted a place where guests could send in their own favorite shots and memories of this joyous occasion. Needless to say, we got a lot of funny selfies!

All in all it was a fabulous day. Two wonderful people and their families were united in marriage, and—despite an overwhelming dearth of air conditioning—all the guests danced the night away. And for one lucky weekend, CommCare got to dress up and play junior maid of honor… all the while helping nearly 200 wedding guests.

Photos above and below by Alex Zoltai

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