"I wanted to take the time to thank the team for the great work on our e-voucher platform. Your system has really created an efficient way for us to manage a much needed health service for these girls."

Austrian Karen

Member of the Population Council

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The system was developed with InSTEDD and in partnership with the Population Council (a worldwide organization that conducts research to address critical health issues and implements health programs to help vulnerable populations) within the Adolescent Girls Empowerment program. Many poor adolescent girls in developing countries, like Zambia, lack access to health care and are often at high risk of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and HIV. This results in many girls dropping out of school, or being unable to find employment.

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Requirements & Context

The Population Council created the Adolescent Girls Empowerment program which targets 10.000 girls in rural and urban Zambia to provide them health and financial education, savings accounts and vouchers entitling girls to health services provided by facilities in the community. The Population Council needed a solution to control the access to vouchers, the use and to let the health providers validate vouchers and check a girl's eligibility for a particular service.

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We created a platform that connects health providers with the girls data through SMS to authorize the vouchers codes and confirm the services provided. The system also creates reports of redeemed vouchers per site and per provider, which facilitates the process of redeeming payments by the health service providers. The names of the girls participating in the program are kept off-system and the voucher system only has IDs that cannot be intrinsically mappable to a person’s identity. Finally, the Population Council can obtain data and statistics to analyze the results of the program.

Picture 01 Working closely with the community was key to design the Health Vouchers platform
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Wizard of Oz Usability Test

The Wizard of Oz usability testing was implemented in a trip Jorge did to Lusaka, Zambia with participants from local clinics and health care centres. He tested the mobile system usability interacting through SMS with the participants as they would in the Health Vouchers program.

Since the system works primarily through SMS it was necessary to provide training to the team working behind the program to guarantee the correct use and validation of the vouchers. In 2013 Jorge traveled to Zambia to collect on-site feedback of the pilot and to train the team in the use of the system. Working in Zambia allowed us to experience first hand the importance of the program, and to discover improvements suggested by the final users of the platform.

Picture 02 Health worker submitting the Health Voucher code to authorize its use
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As reported by the Population Council during the 2014 pilot, 49 girls accessed health care services using their vouchers – including general check-ups, as well as getting family planning services, pre-natal care, and HIV/STI testing and treatment. By August 2015 870 vouchers had been distributed and by 2015 the firsts official statistics were published. Thanks to the Population Council and John Healey for providing us with these photos of girls getting and using their vouchers.

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Step by step

From the teen with the Health Voucher, to the health worker and the SMS confirmation of use, follow the chart and click on each step to learn how the system worked.

Open source

This project is Open Source, we invite you to collaborate and join us in the development of a better world through the use of technology.


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