Discussion about entry: Improving immunization in developing countries


Emily Bosland profile img
Ter, 10/01/2012 - 14:40

Hi Mark,

I enjoyed reading your well thought-out entry! I was wondering if your team has encountered any issues with cultural acceptance of using biometrics to gather data/track patients?

Thank you,


Ter, 17/01/2012 - 19:00

Thanks for reading our entry and great question about the cultural acceptance of biometrics! Early in our design process and up through prototype testing, we expected that we would encounter a fair amount of pushback from patients/caretakers. To that end, we minimized the amount of personally-identifiable information that we collected (no names or pictures) so that the patient's biometric information would have little value outside of our system, in an effort to preemptively address those concerns. However, we quickly noticed that there were no issues (at least, none to date) with cultural acceptance. Parents immediately realized that the value of an improved health outcome for the child outweighed any privacy concerns. And most parents were already quite familiar with biometrics! Fingerprints are routinely used as a signature for the illiterate. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Thanks again for your interest,

Emily Bosland profile img
Qua [?], 18/01/2012 - 11:12

Thanks, Mark,

That's great to hear, and very interesting!


Marzena Zukowska profile img
Seg, 16/01/2012 - 08:38

Hi Mark,

This is a very interesting project that I greatly enjoyed reading about. One of the questions that arose as I was reading your entry is the need for internet access. Do the biometric units require any type internet reliability to function on-site, ie remote and rural areas?


Ter, 17/01/2012 - 19:10

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The system was designed for the most remote and infrastructurally-lacking regions so we have a process in place to move data via physical transfer when internet or mobile coverage is not available. Data is aggregated from the field units at district levels and then all the way up to state and national levels. This aggregated data flows back down to field units. That protocol allows our system to access near-real-time data, which is more than acceptable considering it is rare to see children for immunizations more frequently than every few months. Now, if we're fortunate to be working in an area where internet or mobile coverage is present, we can definitely use it to improve the overall performance of the system. Great question! Let me know if you have any more.