GIZ Nepal participants Pushpa Pandey, Valerie Alvarez, and top TechChange student Bikesh Bajracharya with TechChange Communications Associate Samita Thapa, (and TechChange cubebots).
In our most recent mHealth online course, twelve participants from GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Nepal enrolled in the course to support its mHealth pilot for adolescent sexual and reproductive health. This holiday season, I was fortunate enough to return to my native home of Nepal to meet these TechChange alumni in person at the Nepali-German Health Sector Support Programme (HSSP) at their new office in Sanepa, Nepal. Since the September 2014 mHealth pilot launch, more than 150,000 adolescents have used their interactive service.
Nepal’s National Health Education, Information and Communication Center (NHEICC) developed a National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Communication Strategy (2011 – 2015) that stressed strongly the use of modern methods of communication in its implementation. GIZ, Health for Life (H4L), and the UN Population Fund partnered under NHEICC’s leadership to initiate this SMS based mHealth project – the first in Nepal. The SMS messages and interactive package focus on delaying marriage and pregnancy, healthy timing and spacing of babies, health and hygiene, and addressing gender based violence. The local mobile services provider, Nepal Telecom and NCELL, distributed the interactive SMS package that includes an encyclopedia, role model stories, quizzes, and a hotline for further questions.
Since Pushpa had shared the status of the GIZ mHealth pilot in Nepal as her final project for the mHealth online course the day before we met, it was especially great to catch up with her in person! She expressed that this mHealth course was much more engaging and fun to complete than other online courses she has tried out. Bikesh, the top user in our course with over 400 tech points, is new to the GIZ team and very excited to apply what he has learned in the mHealth course to his work in Nepal. Valerie recently arrived in Nepal and very new to the GIZ-team, was also excited to learn how much the other participants were engaging and that she can still access all course material for four more months.
All three GIZ Nepal participants shared their astonishment on how many tech points Bikesh was able to stack up in the course and also the fantastic course facilitation by Kendra. They also admitted that hearing Pushpa present in the mHealth course gave them insights that they weren’t aware of even though they work at the same office. While taking a technological approach to development projects in a country like Nepal can be challenging, it is an even bigger challenge to get the government’s buy in. It was exciting to learn that despite some hurdles, this mHealth pilot was an initiative supported by the government of Nepal.
We are excited for the future of mHealth in Nepal and wish GIZ all the best in their continued success! We are also excited to welcome six more participants from GIZ Nepal in our upcoming Technology for Monitoring and Evaluation course in January to better measure the impact of this mHealth pilot! It is wonderful to see how GIZ is committed to mHealth and M&E through their investment in technology capacity building in Nepal.