UNICEF Zambia project wins two design awards

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

A UNICEF Zambia-supported mobile health project for early infant HIV diagnosis and post-natal care has received two awards for innovation in design.

Programme Mwana, an mHealth initiative, has won a Gold Award in Design for Social Impact and a Silver Award in Design Strategy from the Industrial Designers Society of America, the world’s oldest and largest member-driven society for product design, industrial design, and interaction design.

Programme Mwana uses SMS technology to speed up the relaying of HIV test results for infants, allowing for an early start of treatment for those who are found to be living with HIV. Starting as a pilot project in 2010, it was launched for national scale up by the Ministry of Health in November last year.

UNICEF Zambia Officer-in-Charge Shaya Asindua said that in winning the awards, the communities involved, as well as staff members from the Zambian Government, partners, and UNICEF colleagues have been recognised for the efforts they put into this innovative project.

Asindua said: "Programme Mwana is unique in that it’s helping to reduce under-five mortality and deliver services to the hardest to reach populations. The hard work by all involved has brought great honour and pride to all of us.”

Programme Mwana was first piloted by the Ministry of Health in 13 districts in six provinces from February 2010 with a goal of reaching nationwide coverage by 2014. So far, more than 5,000 infant HIV test results have been relayed through SMS with reduced turnaround times of around 50 percent, benefiting rural facilities that previously depended on hard-copy results that were transported by road, significantly delaying the start of treatment for infants living with HIV. 

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