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Mobile technology to ensure immunization coverage

Risingbd Desk : Risingbd.com
Published: 30 Jul 2013   05:27:26 PM   Tuesday   ||   Updated: 30 Jul 2013   05:37:27 PM   Tuesday


DHAKA, July 30: International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) has announced a new collaboration under which research will be undertaken to test a sustainable mechanism to support the Bangladesh Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) through mobile technologies.

Icddr,b, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) and the JHU Global mHealth Initiative, with Dhaka-based social enterprise, mPower-Health jointly announced the collaboration, says  a press release.

Dr Md. Jasim Uddin, scientist with icddr,b’s Centre for Equity Health Systems, received a Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) award in November 2012 to undertake the study titled ‘Use of Mobile Phone for Improving Low Immunization Coverage among Children Living in Rural Hard-to-reach Areas and Urban Streets of Bangladesh’.

Launched in March 2013, the study is a collaborative effort among icddr,b, EPI Programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Dhaka City Corporation, Non-government organisations (NGOs), JHPSH, University of British Columbia and mPower.

The researchers are excited about the new collaboration, saying, “Johns Hopkins, icddr,b, and MoHFW of Bangladesh have been long-standing partners in the journey to improving health for women
and children in Bangladesh.”

Working together with new partners like mPower-Health in collaborations like this one allows us to find new answers to old problems, harnessing our many years of experience to truly make a difference for those who need it the most,” said Dr Alain Labrique, Director, Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative.

The main reasons for low immunisation coverage in hard-to-reach areas and among street children are the absence of effective systems to track newborn children and remind parents about immunisation
sessions.

In 2012, a team led by Dr Alain Labrique (JHSPH) and Mridul Chowdhury (mPOWER) was awarded a Grand Challenges Exploration Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to build a mobile-phone based system called mTikka for grassroots EPI workers to register newborns,
schedule vaccinations, and promote timely immunization.

Every year 1.5 million children around the world die from vaccine preventable diseases.

Globally, the Bangladesh Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) is recognised for its excellence in coverage and reach. However, in Bangladesh, immunisation coverage among children living in rural
hard-to-reach districts and urban streets remains low (42%-60%).

While the JHSPH team is testing the mTikka in rural northwestern Bangladesh, the icddr,b team is also testing a version of the system in one rural hard-to-reach sub-district (Jamalgonj) and one urban
zone (zone 5) of Dhaka City.

In all study areas, mTikka is being used with the existing health systems of Bangladesh. Use of the mTikka technology will augment the traditional service delivery system of EPI in Bangladesh.