Ashraf, Sania

Public Health

PhD

Bangladesh

Bangladesh - mPower Health

mPower Health is a for-profit mobile health social enterprise founded originally by international development and business students from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their mission is to bring affordable and quality health services to under-served communities, by enabling the creation of proactive and self-sustaining health systems driven by mobile technologies, community-level entrepreneurship, and value-based partnerships.They have been implementing mHealth projects in Africa, South Asia, and the Americas, enabling patients to access quality medical treatment in areas where there is little or no access to doctors. Since mobile health is a new and growing field, there is not yet a well-established method for research and evaluation of projects. The intern will help in creatingresearch and evaluation framework forvarious projects with respect to process efficiency and improved health outcomes. Key responsibilities are:-Help design a research and evaluation framework for current projects. -Apply the R&E framework to current projects, including analyzing data. - Generalize this framework for future projects globally, including a process for implementing research and evaluation throughout the lifecycle of any project.- Develop white papers, blog posts, newsletter content based on the findings from different projects

Global Health Mentor: Alain Bernard Labrique, PhD
Dept of International Health / Dept of Epidemiology (jt)

I worked in Bangladesh, which was a choice I made through this GHEFP despite being Bangladeshi. I took up the chance to work with Dr. Alain Labrique, and immerse myself in the mHealth work that is being done in Bangladesh through the Global mHealth Initiative (GmI) at Hopkins. This was outside my comfort zone, not having any prior experience of mHealth but it allowed me to explore and learn about the new frontiers the Bangladesh government was involved in to meet its digitalization goals. I worked on behalf of GmI and the Partnership of Maternal Newborn and Child Health at the World Health Organization to assess the readiness of Bangladesh to scale up information communication technologies (ICTs). I met to discuss this agenda with the key stakeholders in the current mHealth ecosystem in Bangladesh from academic and research institutions, international NGOs and private sector companies working to scale up mobile applications for health improvements. The aim was to facilitate a multi stake holder dialogue in 2015 to ensure ownership and a collaborative way forward for Bangladesh to scale up the use of ICTs for health.

Knowing the local language and the culture helped me to conduct effective meetings and also bring back feedback for the larger group here at Hopkins and at the WHO. Dr. Labrique and the lead project manager from PMNCH, Geneva also visited during my time there, contributing to a great platform for team work. In addition to the core project, I took up a chance to visit rural Gaibandha in northwest Bangladesh to visit the JiVitA project, a surveillance site where keystone nutrition and mHealth projects are being led by several Hopkins professors, namely Prof. Keith West and Parul Christian. I travelled to remote rural villages to see how health workers were using mobile applications to collect data to promote vaccination coverage and birth outcomes by prompt birth notifications. It was intriguing to see young to middle aged health workers of both sexes learning how to use mobile phones to digitally collect data that would otherwise be collected on paper. 

This allowed the research team to have an opportunity to review the data close to real time and facilitate workflow of these health care workers who have multiple activities to attend to during the household visit. Learning iteratively to improve their skills, regardless of formal education was inspiring to observe and discuss first hand. There is a lot of interest and real optimism about the changing platform of data collection and use, both in the upper government stake holders as well as the grass root levels.

I am looking forward to getting more involved in mHealth. I had the opportunity to present related work at the mHealth summit in DC last week and am excited about prospects of further engagements in mHealth, especially in other low income country settings.

Photo captions:

1. mCare birth notification card on the door
2. Midlde aged project assistnat using cell phones to enter data in rural Rangpur
3. Paper vaccination cards and bar codes  brought my families on vaccination day

 
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