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In the last year, Myanmar has gone through remarkable changes and the country has started to open up to the world again. Technology restrictions are ending, and in just a year the price of SIMS has dropped from US $120 to US $1.50. According to WHO, Myanmar’s health care system is the second worst in the world with tens of thousands suffering each year from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. More than one third of the population live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare. In a landscape with such poor health indicators and a rapidly developing technology sector, there is huge potential impact for mobile technology interventions.

In order to help organizations explore mHealth possibilities in Myanmar, on September 16th, Dimagi hosted its first workshop on Mobile Technology for Frontline Programs in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon. The workshop brought together over 35 local and international organizations from around Myanmar to discuss best practices, lessons learned, and strategies for implementing mobile technology interventions across different sectors.

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Workshop participants came from a variety of fields including healthcare, agriculture, education, emergency response and gender advocacy to learn about various mobile technology interventions and how to leverage different platforms for their programs. Participants were invited to learn about Dimagi’s open source tools and lessons learned from projects implemented both in Myanmar and around the world. We had the pleasure of hearing from representatives of several organizations with experience in implementing mobile technology pilots around Myanmar. They shared some of the challenges faced and lessons learned in designing and implementing these projects, giving valuable insight into the different components needed for a successful mobile intervention. Special thanks to FHI360 (Dr.Soe Htut Aung), Pact (Jade Lamb), Proximity Designs (Ye Lin Oo, Brian McDonald) and PU-AMI (Aude Morille) for their contributions!

At the end of the day, organizations were able to brainstorm challenges they faced in their sectors and what role mobile technology could play in addressing different issues. One large takeaway was that technology can’t fix a broken system and not every challenge can be addressed by integrating technology. However, what really stood out was the immense opportunity in Myanmar to help strengthen frontline workforces right from these early stages — organizations shared their experiences and helped each other think of ways in which mobile technology could expand the impact of their work.

It was great to see such a wide range of organizations coming together across sectors, sharing common challenges they faced, and supporting each other in thinking of the best ways to integrate mobile technology to maximize impact. We hope to continue fostering a collaborative environment for organizations to share lessons and best practices and look forward to seeing the range of innovations that develop in Myanmar.

To help build additional capacity, Dimagi hosted a second technical capacity building workshop for organizations from September 25th – 26th focused on teaching organizations how to leverage Dimagi’s open-source tool CommCare for their individual programs. 14 organizations attended to learn about about how they could leverage CommCare for their programs, be it for case management, data collection, workforce monitoring or behaviour change communication. Much of the workshop was spent discussing best design practices and lessons learned from Dimagi’s experience in implementing mobile technology interventions, specifically with CommCare. Participants shared what they hoped to do with their programs and learned basic application building concepts learning how to use key features like case management, data collection, and workforce monitoring within CommCare. The group was so enthusiastic and quick to learn that the majority of participants ended up building simple prototype applications in just 2 days!

Dimagi hopes to continue supporting these organizations as they explore the various ways to use CommCare for their programs. For questions about our work in Myanmar, feel free to reach out to any of us (yep, that’s us below!) at sliangpu@dimagi.com, dsarin@dimagi.com, or  rshekhar@dimagi.com.

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