Mobile HeathEd

Mobile HeathEd

Raleigh, United StatesGhana
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mobile HeathEd takes advantage of cultural roots and understanding to fight community resistance to vaccination in developing countries. The goal is to promote vaccination coverage & advance medicines access & hard-nosed business goals by building trust with communities. Change Hero Award to promote volunteerism.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

1: Currently, millions of children die each year in the developing world, especially Africa, from diseases that are preventable through vaccination. Even in countries where reasonably forceful vaccination programs exist, and when vaccines are available at significantly discounted prices or free, coverage can be reasonably low in select regions and it is possible to find a whole community reject vaccination due to religious, cultural and other factors. Child and maternal mortality can remain unacceptable high which place place high economic toll on these countries. 2: Volunteerism and citizen participation among the African privileged is insufficient to fill in the gap left by corps. govt, and NGOs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

I propose a Mobile HeathEd (and Change Hero Award), a solution that is based on exploiting the cultural roots and understanding of employees/volunteers to make an outreach to communities/regions with identified health crisis (low vaccination coverage, high infant mortality etc) with target community education/health campaign. The goal is to build trust and affect large scale cultural and attitudinal changes with resultant positive social changes such as increase vaccination rates and improve child and maternal health outcomes. To encourage citizen participation among the African privileged (at home & in the Diaspora), Change Hero Award will be instituted. Over the course of a year, communities can nominate and vote for the individuals they want to nominate for recognition for significant contribution to health and education. The hope is that this will spur individual citizens to supplement the efforts by governments, NGOs, and foundation in causing social change on the continent.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In Jan/Feb 2012, I dedicated my own GSK vacation to do a community outreach in Ghana, teaching in rural schools and educating village communities on malaria and other preventable diseases. I first hand got to understand how much folks appreciate hearing from someone who indentifies the culture, doesn’t appear patronizing even when the mood calls for it and is willing to hear their side of the story. I also got to realize the magnitude of the healthcare challenges, the varied misperception of orthodox medicine (especially vaccines for children) held by many people. On a large scale, as proposed in this project, the next step would be connecting these communities with their local primary health care (PHC). This would be easier if collaborating with the PHC. We could also set up Community Champions that would be responsible for linking the communities with their PHC facilities. SMS text messaging & other models can be employed. I trust such a model can be scaled up and replicated across several countries and communities by identifying colleagues/volunteers who meet two basic criteria: 1.They have cultural backgrounds or understanding that helps them to be aware of the several of factors that are impediments to vaccination campaigns in communities 2.They can communicate our corporate values and scientific basis and value of our products (vaccines) to these communities in a way they can understand. Eventually, the end goal is to encourage more privileged Africans to be involved in volunteerism and community participation which is what Change Hero Award aims accomplish.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Periodically, the government or other organizations run vaccination campaigns on television and in print media when there is the need for mass vaccination. However, the people that are left out in vaccination programs are the one that are difficult to reach by means of television and such mass media channels. The educational campaign proposed in Mobile EdHealth will focus on target communities with target message and thereby make the most impact. There are many programs that focus on Arts &celebrities but none that targets everyday people making difference in their communities. Change Hero Awards will send a message to the new generation that community participation and social contribution is honorable and encouraged.

Founding Story

One of the stories that inspire this idea is the polio debacle in Nigeria a few years ago. In 2003, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) embarked on an aggressive campaign to eradicate polio in the country where it was endemic. Soon after the campaign started Nigeria halted immunization program on fear that vaccines had been contaminated with anti-fertility & HIV agents (due to a material posted on an internet site). The campaign in Nigeria was focused on the northern part of the country (because that was where the virus was endemic. Northern Nigeria is also predominantly Muslim, which led to conclusion that the vaccination was a plot by Western governments to reduce the population of Muslims worldwide. The controversy lasted for 16 months. With Mobile HealthEd approach, instead of concluding that the people were rejecting vaccination as a result ignorance or lack of education, we try to understand the underlying logic to their anxieties and try to address them.
About You
About You
First Name


Tell us about yourself/your team.

I’m a Scientist at GlaxoSmithKline based in the RTP, NC. My company exists to help people do more, feel better & live longer. I had my basic education through my Masters degree in Ghana before I left to pursue a PhD in chemistry in the USA. Alongside my fulltime job at GSK, I volunteer for a non-profit whose mission is to empower underprivileged communities through health education and provision of basic educational materials.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

My job requires interfacing between different groups with divergent goals, customers at multiple sites and negotiating with different vendors. This demand resolve, original thinking, and business-like approach to getting things done.
I have had to look for new ways to improve systems, and advance scalable solutions. As a process chemist, I undertake feasibility reactions at small scale and indentify solution to scale them up. I can transfer this background to identify and solve large-scale social problems.
I have global understanding of the health/educational needs around the world and the cultural understanding of the communities that grapple with these challenges, I believe these, in addition to the energy and passion I have, are vital in generating the necessary social changes.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, NC, Raleigh

Primary country where this project is creating social impact
Additional countries or regions

Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Sub-Saharan Africa


Health Care

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

In communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, even when vaccines are available at much reduced price, they may still not be accessible to the children who need them due not only to economic factors but also cultural and religious factors and lack of information. It is one thing to have buy-in from the government, it is another thing to have buy-in and commitment from the community at all levels. Building TRUST with the communities at the grassroots level is paramount to success.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

I have already undertaken a prototype program in Ghana where I have roots and record remarkable success as I talked to village schools, churches, and communities in one district.
Even though that was through a personal giving back to community effort, I envision a scenario where it can be scaled up to ‘mix corporate good doing with strong business goals’. Since we’re already selling our products to some of these communities at differential pricing, we might as well get as much message out in order to get as much products out and of course save as many lives.
Change Hero Award is a new idea that can go hand in hand with Mobile HealthEd. If instituted, the impact will be a new wave of volunteerism and citizen involvement among the advantaged Africans who are in most cases cut off from the communities where the problems are.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

Part of year one may require set up, selecting a country & mapping an area, studying the health burden vis-à-vis the culture, these can be accomplished while employee(s) conducts their regular full time job. By incorporating some of these early learnings forward, Mobile HealthEd could accelerate operations into communities & soon we could have data showing dramatic changing attitudes towards vaccines accompanied by high vaccination coverage in otherwise poor coverage catchment areas. By Year three, Mobile HealthEd could radicalize the way we message our product to the developing world.
A website would be built for Change Hero Awards by Year 1 and a volunteer team in host country set up & promotional activities started. Social media channels will be aggressively employed for promotion.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Barriers to success include long term sustainability, government and local bureaucracy, and perceived competition from local health centers.
Will ensure long-term sustainability and continued success by embedding local organizations/ individuals in the educational campaign. Mobile HealthEd and local groups/individuals would learn from one another with the goal of spreading accountability and replicating the social impact of the project.
Significant resource will be dedicated to educating local activists/organizations through seminars and workshops. These individuals or indigenous groups could become change ambassadors in their communities.
Working with local health centers, we can make use of the hospitality local communities show towards outside groups and multiply the impact

What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

GSK develops vaccines some of which is sold the Developing World at significantly reduced pricing. With Mobile HealthEd, GSK will get ROI by choosing volume over profit for the products we sell to the world’s poorest countries by encouraging broader participation and save more lives as a result. The trust we build with the communities will translate to loyalty towards our products. Data we collect from the field will guide our approach pricing in developing countries, lobbying, marketing ethics and product donations & philanthropic activities.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

GSK has an ongoing employee volunteer-based program called PULSE that leverages internal skills to support non-profit organizations to facilitate educational and health projects around the world. Though Mobile HealthEd is of a different scale and scope and specific in its mission, PULSE resources would be instrumental and synergistic.
As a global organization with operations in over 100 countries, in places where we market our product that have unique healthcare challenges, we can exploit the geographical roots of our employees in these places to make lasting social changes while at the same advancing our business cause.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

Funding will be sought from the Office of the CEO, and Developing Countries and Market Access (Least Developed Countries Unit), external non-profit organizations.
Long term funding responsibility can be spread out by inviting other founders such as Bill & Melida Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative and other NGOs. And finally, because changing attitudes towards vaccines (and drugs) and the industry benefits the whole pharmaceutical industry, other companies that have footprints in the regions where Mobile HealthEd operates could be invited to support financially.
Sponsorship from Corporations, government agencies & Foundations together with other monetization options will be sought to support the Change Hero Awards.

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty has on many occasions spoken passionately about medicines for the developing world especially vaccines and so getting some sponsorship from the CEO’s Office will be vital for success. Will also build on existing relationship with Employee Resource Groups, GSK colleagues and the PULSE network. An endorsement from the HR Talent & Leadership Development and GSK Functional Heads will be crucially sought. Network of NGO and Non-profit organizations, academia

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

Proposal was first submitted as part of GSK PULSE Lab request for ideas and was one of few recommended after rigorous panel review. Line Manager has been supportive of idea and encouraged pursuit of proposal.


Mobile HealthEd/Change Hero Awards is an innovative project draw private citizen support to supplement the efforts of NGOs, governments, and foundations in the fight against malaria, vaccination hurdles, preventable diseases and educational challenges. Financial support and partnership as well as ideas as warmly welcome. Thank you.

Maggie De Pree's picture

What a great idea and love that you've already prototyped the approach in your spare time! It feels like there are many potential partners for your work and that Ashoka could usefully point you to entrepreneurs thinking of similar approaches - perhaps in Ghana and elsewhere. I also love the idea of making the business case around patient insight -how powerful to get people out of the office and into the communities they are trying to reach! Great stuff!

Generally, volunteerism and citizen participation among the African privileged is insufficient to fill in the gap left by corporations. govt, and NGOs or to supplement the efforts by traditional institutions. rent a photo booth nj

African privileged is insufficient to fill in the gap left by corporations. govt, and NGOs or to supplement the efforts by traditional institutions. buy facebook likes

The hope is that this will spur individual citizens to supplement the efforts by governments, NGOs, and foundation in causing social change on the continent.

I like the idea of connecting education but with the need of building trust in the community. If successful, could be very impactful. But I am wondering what this looks like exactly - would health professionals be involved? Once education is given (and in what form is it given?) then how will people be connected to where they can get vaccinated? Also wondering if there is a way to show more proof of concept based on the experiment in Ghana - maybe collecting data to show how the work you and other volunteers were engaged in directly resulted in more people being vaccinated. That data could help to mobilize folks around this idea. Thanks for your commitment!

Dear Dorothy,
Thank you for your comment and encouragement.
For this project to be successful & sustainable in the long term, we would need to work collaboratively with local community health care professionals. But with this model, we do not evade the responsibility of educating the communities about our products, building trust with them and ensuring optimum participation. This also ensures that we get the added benefit of getting the insight information to pursue new research areas and the feedback and data necessary to optimize our backend business with regard to pricing model, government interactions, philanthropic activities and product donations.
In terms of connecting the people to where they can get vaccinated, there are a few models that we can experiment. Currently GSK is partnering with Vodafone on a pilot program to test how the use of SMS text messaging can be used to increase vaccination coverage in Mozambique. I believe such a program can be expanded to register mobile phone numbers of new mothers at places of birth so text messages could be sent to them at scheduled times to remind them of critical vaccinations. Even so, in many places, despite major advances in funding and availability of vaccines, cultural, religious and other perceptions can leave large segments of populations out, and so awareness/education can be as much a problem as access.
The ‘proof of concept’ work described in the proposal used established institutions like community schools and churches in the villages visited. These were cost-efficient places to meet communities and share information and easy to get the message back into the community. There has not been any official data collected to measure impact yet, but I agree that would be useful.