Maps and Meetings

I’m very happy with how things have started off. Almost immediately upon arriving, I pitched the communications program at the hospital’s management meeting. Most of those in attendance I knew from my previous stay in Namitete, and they seem happy to have me back.

I’ve discovered that props are useful. So, I lugged my suitcase into the conference room, revealing about one-hundred cell phones. I also flopped around the ~100,000 units of communication credit I’d purchased at the airport. After a quick demonstration of FrontlineSMS, ideas started flowing – and not just in one direction. I’m finding that ideas developed in the US regarding the program’s potential usefulness (e.g. patient follow-up, TB and HIV drug adherence monitoring, fielding the community’s medical questions, etc.) are really resonating here.

After a bit of grudge work (putting in SIM cards, implanting the initial Celtel units, recording numbers, testing FrontlineSMS, etc.) we are ready to start the pilot.

I am calling the Chairs and Vice Chairs of both the Community AIDS Committees (CACs, “cacks”) and the Village AIDS Committees (VACs, “vacks”) for a meeting on Monday morning. It’s set for 8AM – I’m hoping they’ll trickle in by 10:00. This first ‘batch’ of CHWs will be the pilot within the pilot. After monitoring their activities for a week or so, we’ll look to expand to another group – as the Matron says, we’ll start with those who are “hardest working.”

I spent the day in Lilongwe, trying to find decent maps of the area the CHWs hail from and work in. First, I tried the District Health Office. No maps, but the doctor coordinating health information for Lilongwe was very interested in the communications initiative – specifically, the possibility of scaling up to cover the entire Lilongwe district. In an attempt to stay ambitious but grounded, I kindly left her my e-mail and other contact information.

Next, I headed to the Department of Surveys. Like the government hospitals, the state buildings are treacherous. Quite literally, I had to guess which alleyway to wander down – I was finally consoled by a piece of paper, duck-taped to a door, which read, “Digital Mapping.” I put in an order for TA Kalolo and TA Mavwere (don’t ask me what ‘TA’ means, because I have no idea), and was told to come back in a few hours. After a few bribes (‘fees’) and hitchhiking excursions, I had my maps (below).


I’ll leave you with an image of some of the goods. Before the week ends, I am creating some step-by-step instructions for operating the phones and FrontlineSMS, which Alex is going to translate into Chichewa tomorrow. I’ll probably fall asleep testing the hand-powered, wind-up chargers – the motor is strangely soothing.

Posted: June 20th, 2008
Categories: Other posts, Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,
Comments: 6 Comments.
Comments
Comment from Karina - June 21, 2008 at 3:45 am

This looks really cool! I’m glad – it seems like you’re really hitting the ground running in Malawi! Look forward to future entries.

Comment from D. Scott - June 21, 2008 at 4:14 am

Josh,
you’re awesome. Call me sometime if you have a spare phone. I’ll also be getting back from Myanmar Aug 10th, but I do not have a bag of phones…
D. Scott Smith

Comment from Grahambo - June 22, 2008 at 3:10 am

Sweet man! This looks awesome. Thanks for the invite, I’ll definitely be scoping you from Sierra Camp this summer. Can’t wait to read more.

Comment from Enrique Allen - June 22, 2008 at 5:41 am

Awesome Josh, this is great! I look forward to more stories. GLuck

Comment from Thiago - June 26, 2008 at 2:13 am

Wow! You are the man! You are making progress quickly! Keep up the good work… friend

Comment from matere lusitche - July 14, 2008 at 8:13 am

i like your on the groud ethusiasm keep it up remember the notice board idea i sent you see http://www.tangazoboard@blogspot.com for a brief outline and get me on kenyabizideas@gmail.com for additional information .hey we should meet