We spent last summer in two very different places that had very similar problems.
In the Gaza Strip, Batoul observed a clinic in a refugee camp that experienced regular shortages of essential vaccines. Every time the clinic ran out, parents would spend the day calling in, hoping to get their children first in line when a new shipment arrived – and a nurse would spend the day answering the phone, instead of caring for patients.
In an HIV-stricken village in Malawi, Jordan met a man who had stopped making the 6 mile walk to the nearest clinic for basic health supplies. “Every time I go, they’re out. I’ve gone five times. I lose an afternoon of work just checking.”
We came back to Houston shaken by how these seemingly simple problems posed such a great barrier to health access.
And we kept wondering what we could do to help.
Both of us had noticed that cell phones were universal, and we realized that this technology could help bridge the information gap. Together, we founded Dunia Health.
Dunia Health is a nonprofit dedicated increasing clinical efficiency in low-resource settings by providing clinics with a way to mass-text patients about health supplies.
To tackle vaccine shortages, we have developed an automatic scheduling system. This sends parents a text message when the vaccines their children need become available at their local clinic. Our system can save clinicians 150 minutes of unnecessary talk time each day, increasing patient contact while decreasing the risk of vaccine-preventable disease for children and newborns.
This summer, we’re partnering with the UN Relief and Works Agency to test our system in a refugee camp outside of Amman, Jordan – but as two students, our means do not match our determination. This is where we need your help. We want to tailor our work to fit the needs of those we are trying to help, and there’s no shortcut here: to make the best system possible, we have to be on the ground, working with users to develop a technology that will be used for lasting change.
We’re raising funds online: visit us at rally.org/duniahealth if you’re interested in contributing. You can also learn more at duniahealth.org, or spread the word via Twitter or Facebook. In the crisis areas we hope to assist, every minute counts when it come to treating patients. For our team, every dollar counts – and we want you to be a part of it.
Batoul Abuharb Jordan Schermerhorn