Monthly Archives: December, 2014

Gnucoop and mhealth – Malawi

December 24th, 2014 Posted by ICT4D 2 comments on “Gnucoop and mhealth – Malawi”

In rural areas, access to fast and accurate medical information can be an issue. This is particularly important in time of emergencies, such as during disease outbreaks or natural disasters, when timely information can save lives.

In 2012 in Malawi, Gnucoop staff has developed for COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale) and UNICEF, an ODK mobile and web platform in order to support health operators from remote areas, in collecting and sending information about IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) monitoring and drugs stock levels.

The system was developed in accordance to the guidelines established by the IMCI protocol, promoted by WHO. Six Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) in Salima District, in the central area of Malawi, were provided with Android smartphones equipped with the Open Data Kit (ODK) application. HSA were filling out specifically developed ODK forms, customised accordingly to the IMCI WHO algorithm, to provide basic care to children under 5 years of age affected by the most common diseases (i.e.: malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, etc…).  Following instructions and questions provided by the ODK forms, HSA were guided in performing child visits at village clinics. Therefore, the IMCI-smartphone application worked as a point of care supporting tool for the HSAs.

In addition to the point of care supporting function, this mhealth system provided also information and warnings about drugs stockouts and reminders about children needing follow up.


Lesson learnt

The system was implemented for a couple of years, under UNICEF and DIPECHO funds. After its implementation we learnt some key lessons that may be useful also to implement future projects:

  1. technology is not the solution but it is a tool/mean that can help to achieve the set targets;
  2. specific human resources should be dedicated by the implementing organisation to manage and monitor an mhealth (or ICT4D) project ;
  3. national authorities should be involved in all the phases of the project, from the design and data collection to the scaling up;
  4. users’ feedback needs to be collected in order to improve the system over time.


For more tips on mhealth projects, read the toolkit:

Gnucoop and mhealth – Madagascar

December 21st, 2014 Posted by ICT4D 1 comment on “Gnucoop and mhealth – Madagascar”

In 2013 in Madagascar, Gnucoop deployed for COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale) and Medecins du Monde (MdM), an Ushahidi platform in order to monitor levels of drug stock in the health centres (CSB, centres de santé de base) in the region of Sambava in the north-east of Madagascar.

This need was raised by the lack of information, particularly during time of emergencies, related to the availability of drugs in remote health centers in rural areas. In fact, in the event of stockouts, CSB were obliged to request medicines from the central pharmacy in Antananarivo, rather than from much closer health centers that may have that drug available in stock. Therefore, this system has the objective of reducing the time needed to send medicines to the CSB in need.

The system was based on an Ushahidi webplatform and an sms-to-email system provided by an international mobile service provider.

Medical staff from 37 CSB in Sambava were trained on the use of SMS to report information about the quantity of drugs available at the end of each month in each clinic. The SMS had a specific structure, including both letters and numbers: the letters identified the name of the drugs and the numbers identified the quantities of drug available in stock.

On the last day of the month, operators had to send the structured sms to the web platform, by using a specific phone number. Sent information was then received by the webserver and an Ushahidi report on the web-application was automatically generated, through a script developed by Gnucoop.

A medical officer at district level, supported by MdM, was monitoring the information received on the Ushahidi platform and validating reports.

Furthermore, the system included a warning component. When a CSB was reported to be out of stock for at least one of the drugs, a message or email was automatically sent to the medical officers at central level and NGO staff to report the critical situation.

The system had been implemented for several months in the second half of 2013, under DIPECHO funds. A very interesting aspect is that, although NGOs provided continuous support, the government health staff was able to perform monitoring tasks autonomously and with very limited supervision, indicating that the system was highly appreciated and user-friendly.

The webplatform is available at the following link:


What About #technology And #Development?

December 19th, 2014 Posted by ICT4D 0 comments on “What About #technology And #Development?”

Large technological (socio-technical) systems might absolutely affect development for the better. This especially holds for focusing on the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) via global efforts on international development in urban as well as rural areas. This not only challenges current methods for approaching and engendering development; it emphasizes the need for a newness of ideas, and new expertise, too.



First, data at the project- and activity- level must be publicly accessible in a

format that people can understand, use and compare.

Second, donors and governments must systematically tag projects and activities with geographic information and make these data public.

Third, citizens, public officials and scholars must have mapping tools to visualize and make sense of the data.

Off the map- Data and development

December 2nd, 2014 Posted by ICT4D 0 comments on “Off the map- Data and development”

A group of charities including MSF, Red Cross and HOT unveiled, a joint initiative to produce free, detailed maps of cities across the developing world—before humanitarian crises erupt, not during them.