mHealth for Mothers: Video Review

mHealth, defined as the use of mobile technology to support healthcare, is arguably one of the hottest global health trends right now. With rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, along with the continued growth of cellular networks, mHealth has the potential to address some of the biggest healthcare challenges in the world, including access and affordability. It’s becoming more and more integrated into healthcare systems as it can significantly cut costs and increase the reach of healthcare services in both middle- and low-income countries.

This video, released last month at the Social Good Summit during UN General Assembly Week in New York City, provides the following example of the kind of impact mHealth can have in developing countries:

  • Challenge – Most women around the world only have one prenatal visit with a healthcare worker. However, one billion women in developing countries have access to a mobile phone.
  • Solution – Use SMS and voice messaging to provide mothers with important information in their native language at each stage of pregnancy and throughout the first full year of the child’s life.

During my last trip to Nigeria I had my first personal experience with mHealth. Upon arrival, I purchased a basic Nokia bar phone and SIM card. While playing around with the phone, I stumbled upon the Nokia Life Tools app which is a standard, built-in feature on some models of Nokia bar phones. The app provides healthcare, entertainment, agricultural, and educational information. The healthcare section peaked my interest as it includes sections for MNCH advice, men’s health, women’s health, and chronic disease information. First, you enter basic details about yourself (sex, age, language, etc.), then you scroll through and subscribe to whichever topics you’re interested in. The MNCH advice section parallels the example in the video above. It delivers weekly developmental information during pregnancy via SMS and continues with child development tips for the first few years after pregnancy. The only costs associated with the app are standard text messaging fees.  

In addition to patient education, health workers and providers also use mHealth for data collection, disease surveillance and management, treatment support, direct care, and more. Developing countries are definitely embracing the movement and driving innovations in mHealth, making it an exciting field with the potential to transform healthcare all over the world.

PATH Graduate-level Internship, Woman’s Condom Communications Intern

Special note: Applications for this internship will be accepted until May 30, 2011. We encourage students who are interested in this opportunity to submit an application as soon as possible. This internship will be for three months and will offer a monthly stipend of USD 1,250/month. The start date of the internship is anticipated to be in June or July. Additionally, please note internships with PATH are contingent upon the Intern providing documented proof of identity and eligibility to participate in a paid or unpaid practical training program in the United States, in accordance with federal immigration law. Please include a cover letter with your application.  The original posting can be found here.

Project background and aims

The Woman’s Condom is a female condom that is designed to protect against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Our project goal is to launch the Woman’s Condom in China and one or more countries in Africa successfully and sustainably. Our effort will employ a total market approach, combining the skills and capacities of the public and private sectors, social marketing groups, and nongovernmental organizations to promote, distribute, and program the Woman’s Condom and increase levels of use among target groups. In preparation for the Woman’s Condom launch in China, the intern will assist in the execution of a variety of communication activities.

This internship aligns very well with PATH’s mission to advance appropriate technologies such as the Woman’s Condom that fill a specific need related to improving the health of people around the world. On an individual level, the intern will have an opportunity to directly impact the introduction of a consumer goods healthcare product, thereby improving the health of women and their partners. Additionally, the intern will gain valuable experience and network with key stakeholders that may lead to an international career in the non-profit, non-governmental and/or industry sectors. Informal meetings with Communication Officers and field staff members at PATH should accelerate learning and provide value to the Woman’s Condom project team.

Goals and learning objectives for the intern:

The programmatic goal for the internship is for the intern to build on the brand and packaging designed for the product by creating additional branding and marketing elements to generate awareness and demand among the target market segments in China.

The individual learning objectives for the intern are to: 1) develop/enhance skills related to an international product launch with an increased understanding of strategic communication including product positioning and messaging, 2) increase understanding of market environment in Shanghai, and 3) enhance cultural sensitivity and collaboration skills by working on a multicultural team.

Skills to be developed and/or expanded during the internship:

The selected applicant will work in Shanghai for the majority of the internship and work closely with our manufacturing partner, Shanghai Dahua Medical Apparatus Company (Dahua). Expected outcomes include creating messages that appeal to the target market segments in China, conceptualizing a brand identity and creating design elements that convey this identity, and helping Dahua design a website for the Woman’s Condom. At the end of the internship, the intern will deliver a written report and presentation to the team.

Proposed activities:

1)      Build on the brand name and packaging design of the product by conceptualizing a brand identity for the brand and create design elements that portray this identity that would be prominent on the Dahua product website and in advertising materials.

2)      Study effective brands in the condom and personal products market in China for ideas of how to best create design elements that will attract the Woman’s Condom target market segments.

Learning outcomes:

We will evaluate the intern using a team-based performance feedback approach. All Woman’s Condom team members will be asked to provide input about the following aspects of the intern’s performance at the end of the 12 week internship:

  • Ability to communicate clearly with team members
  • Ability to communicate clearly with external audiences
  • Understanding of the basic principles of collaboration and demonstration of at least one instance of successful collaboration with in-country partners
  • Ability to demonstrate the fundamentals of listening, meeting participation, giving and receiving feedback, team decision-making, and conflict resolution
  • Ability to apply technical knowledge skill set to specific project tasks in China setting
  • Level of demonstrated interest and engagement in project activities

Additionally, the intern will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Woman’s Condom team. The team leader will conduct an exit interview with the intern to collect qualitative data regarding the internship experience from the intern’s perspective. The team leader will then assist the intern to structure the presentation of feedback to the Woman’s Condom team. Feedback will be presented in an informal team setting.

Finally, we will strive to make the internship a memorable and enjoyable experience as much as possible that they carry with them throughout their career.

Brief description of required skills and experience:

  • Mandarin Chinese written and verbal language skills with fluency to conduct business required.
  • Enrolled in a communications or business graduate program required.
  • Marketing/brand development concentration in education and/or career.
  • Consumer product experience strongly preferred.
  • Advertising/marketing agency experience strongly preferred.
  • International experience preferred.
  • Strong interest in PATH’s mission.
  • Ability to think strategically and creatively.
  • Effective written and oral communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work both as part of a team and independently.
  • Self-starter.
Job Location: Shanghai, CHINA