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Serving marginalized populations despite all barriers

Serving marginalized populations despite all barriers

SolDevelo in collaboration with Pathfinder International 

A difficult situation of pregnant women in developing countries of the world surely does not surprise any of us. It is a fact that they are the most vulnerable to complications of pregnancy and face a much higher risk of dying as a result of these complications. Mostly for the simple reason that they have limited access to the basic minimum services required during the antenatal and childbirth periods. But however hard the situation is, it makes an excellent proving ground for NGOs and new technologies focused on social impact. 

Pathfinder on the mission

Pathfinder International, a non-profit organization set up in 1957, is a leader in addressing maternal health issues and promoting women’s rights. Their mission is to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights globally by catalysing change locally. What they want is to ensure that people everywhere have the right to live a healthy sexual and reproductive life and every woman is respected and safe during her pregnancy and childbirth. 

In practice, it means easy access to contraception, HIV prevention and AIDS care and treatment, and decreasing the number of deaths from preventable pregnancy-related complications. Pathfinder’s undertakings also include enabling access to family planning, ensuring availability of safe abortion services and advocating for sound reproductive health policies. The organization is active in nearly 20 countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Near East and Latin America, where their teams work alongside hundreds of local activists to help people decide whether and when to have children and lead the lives they choose.

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The m4Change project for high-quality antenatal care 

So as to put their vision and mission into action, Pathfinder partners with different individuals and across different sectors, countries and communities. Partnerships across sectors lead to the integration of new technologies into their work. One of their most important undertakings was a program called m4change conducted in Abuja and Nasarawa (Nigeria). Launched in 2012, it was run together with Dimagi, Inc and the Nigerian government. Pathfinder used a CommCare mobile application to improve the quality of maternal and child health services offered at primary health centres in the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa states. The project also introduced mobile money into the government’s conditional cash transfer program.

In order to promote data use and effective planning, Pathfinder developed an online reporting portal to allow access to a user-friendly data dashboard where key stakeholders could access data for facility and aggregate level data analysis. They also recognized the power of using data for improved supervision and partnered with the University of Washington to explore protocol and workflow data collected in CommCare and compared across sites. The data was shared with supervisors to understand anomalies and, as a result, improve the quality of care. 

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SolDevelo’s contribution 

As SolDevelo has always aimed at improving the quality of life of poor communities, we eagerly engage into projects with Partners who want to change the world for the better – especially when it comes to people’s lives in developing countries. We promote good solutions in health services by integrating best practices into technology-enabled programs for the developing world. The same was in the case of the m4Change project. Our task was to develop Dashboard for Report Views, extract data from CommCare Databases and communicate with Third-Party Bank System. All of this in order to improve the quality of services provided by community health workers and facilitate more accurate decision-making.

m4Change impressive results

Thanks to the use of the CommCare application, the m4Change project improved the quality of care offered to pregnant women and their infants up to one year of age. The program equipped 50 primary health centres and 350 community health extension workers with a mobile application that enabled them to track women throughout pregnancy and provide them with high-quality antenatal care counselling and services. Nearly 13,000 women were registered for antenatal care using the CommCare mobile application and whenever one of them missed an antenatal care appointment, she was notified about it by SMS and encouraged to return to her health facility. The CommCare application was also used for BabyDelivery, Child Immunisation and Postnatal visit tracking. 

It is also worth mentioning that on the basis of the m4Change project, Pathfinder, with funding from the UN Foundation, launched the m4Change + mCCT project in 2014. Through this project, they provided technical assistance to Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) to adopt the use of a mobile application to track pregnant mothers enrolled in the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme. SolDevelo partnered in that other project with our expertise and our engineers’ highest professional skills as well. 

At the forefront of the COVID-19 response 

Pathfinder International never gives up and lays down their arms. It has become especially visible during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 has only confirmed that their work is critical. The situation when health systems became strained to their limits threatened reproductive health care on an enormous scale. It is enough to take into account challenges such as interrupting delivery of health services and contraceptive supply chains, not to mention country-wide lockdowns. 

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What’s the worst, such a critical state of things seriously stunted the potential and progress of millions of women and girls in Africa and Asia. Fortunately, Pathfinder reacted quickly, and their local teams adapted rapidly to confront emerging challenges. They worked with ministries of health to help coordinate national and subnational response plans, strongly advocating for essential reproductive health services to stay open and safe. Whenever possible, they adapted those services to be remote and used digital platforms (like SMS and WhatsApp) to enable health workers to engage in remote consultations on sexual and reproductive health. Pathfinder also made sure that communities knew where they could still get reproductive health care, including contraception. All of this to slow down the devastating effect of COVID-19 and build stronger communities. And as they promise, they will keep addressing the pandemic head-on, by supporting women and young people on their path to new possibilities. 

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