Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
According to the World Bank, Malawi’s GNI per capita is $330; life expectancy is only 47 years. In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that there are only .2 physicians and 2.8 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people. Malawi’s Ministry of Health uses Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) to promote community –based health care. There are an estimated 11,000 HSAs in Malawi. Training has been standardized for the HSAs by the MOH. However, HSAs often do not have the tools or support to deliver these critical health services to the last mile.
Our packs have been field-tested over approximately 2 years at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Namitete, Malawi, located in a highly rural area outside Lilongwe, Malawi. St. Gabriel’s is a district hospital with a catchment area of 100 miles and more than 250,000 patients. Patients often travel by foot or bicycle to reach the hospital; as a result, St. Gabriel’s has an active community outreach program. Community health outreach nurses from St. Gabriel’s travel into poor rural communities to deliver basic health services and referral services to patients. Interviews with these community health workers are in a video included in this submission.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
A team of Rice University undergraduates in the Beyond Traditional Borders program were offered the global health technology design challenge of creating a portable kit for community health outreach nurses in Malawi. One of the students on the team, Elizabeth, had volunteered at St. Gabriel’s Hospital. She is extremely dedicated to the St. Gabriel’s community and considers it her “family”. Working with her team and physicians at St. Gabriel’s, she designed a prototype of the backpack and traveled to Malawi in summer 2009 to gather feedback on the packs from the community health outreach nurses at St. Gabriel’s. Elizabeth then produced and delivered 12 refined packs to St. Gabriel’s in January 2010. Last summer, she returned to St. Gabriel’s and gathered additional feedback that helped to refine the packs specifically for use by the Malawi Ministry of Health’s Health Surveillance Assistants. In addition, she helped to open up the opportunity for scale up of the pack at St. Gabriel’s hospital, as well as at another district hospital in Malawi. She started medical school this fall and will pursue a career in global health so that she can continue to lead in providing care for underserved populations in the developing world.