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Smartphones and smart ladies: informed decision making in Madagascar

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Smartphones and smart ladies: informed decision making in Madagascar

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Smartphones and smart ladies: informed decision making in Madagascar

Repost: Written by me, originally published on mariestopes.org

Antananarivo, the crowded capital of Madagascar, has roughly 1.4 million inhabitants living shoulder-to-shoulder. The city spreads out like an endless quilt of corrugated tin roofs, and in the midst of it all Philbertine Raveloarisoa – Madagascar’s original Marie Stopes Lady – runs her neighbourhood clinic.

In 2009 Marie Stopes Madagascar advertised on the radio for a new kind of health provider, one who would go out and meet women in the community, helping them with their family planning options. Philbertine, a trained nurse, responded and became Madagascar’s first Marie Stopes Lady.

 Philbertine with a client (Human Network International, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Philbertine with a client (Human Network International, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Now Philbertine sees 10 to 15 clients per day for consultation or for medical procedures, such as contraceptive implants and insertion of intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Many of her clients would not be able to afford these services through other health care providers, or even access them due to their location. 

Mobile and working right in the heart of her community, Philbertine transforms her clients’ homes into makeshift clinics – places where her neighbours feel confident asking questions or voicing their concerns about family planning methods.

When she’s not meeting clients in their homes, she works from her clinic. A small, humble building painted sky blue, with just one room and a small waiting area big enough for six people. In this room, amongst the reference books, stethoscopes and other tools of the trade, you’ll always find Philbertine’s smartphone within reach.

This is because Marie Stopes Madagascar provides her with a smartphone that uses an innovative data collection service – DataWinners – to help her spend her time where it’s needed most. Philbertine says:

I save a lot of time by using DataWinners. I can complete and submit my daily report more quickly than when we used paper forms, so I spend more time with clients.

“Technology’s just an extension of the work they already do”

Today there are 145 Marie Stopes Ladies in Madagascar seeing more than 45,000 clients per year. They are all supported by this service, which helps us adhere to one of our core values: informed decision making. The data that’s collected helps our program managers in Madagascar to measure, learn and make operational decisions based on accurate and timely information. This improves the quality of services offered to thousands of clients in Madagascar.

Data Quality Manager for Marie Stopes Madagascar, Fidy Randriamanandray, says:

Once a Marie Stopes Lady has been trained to use the technology, it becomes an extension of the work they already know how to do. Now we collect and analyse more data in real-time, which helps us support Marie Stopes Ladies throughout the country.

Since 2013 Marie Stopes Madagascar has collected more than 70,000 reports from Marie Stopes Ladies, resulting in better targeting and improved family planning service provision.

Just as important but harder to quantify is the time saved by Marie Stopes Ladies like Philbertine, which they can re-invest in quality consultations and contraceptive procedures for the women of Madagascar.

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