Center Fellow Leaves for India to Mobilize Health

June 8, 2009

pooja-photo

That's me—Pooja Upadhyaya—with the video camera I'm taking with me to India for a project called Mobilizing Health, partially funded by a summer fellowship from the Greater Good Science Center. I leave today!

I'll be joined by two other Mobilizing Health team members, Karla De Leon and Christian Fernandez. Our other two members, Marko Spasic and Suneel Jain, will be consulting with us via Skype and emails from Brazil and California, respectively.

We're all UC Berkeley students (or recent grads) who hope to increase access to emergency health care for the world's poor. For our Mobilizing Health project, we're capitalizing on the fact that today, even the most remote areas in the world have some cell phone network. By the beginning of 2010, we hope to use cell phones to connect as many as 20,000 Indian villagers in need of emergency medical care to a doctor.

The plan is to provide one health worker from each of 50 villages a cell phone and teach them how to send text messages in their own language. The messages will be sent to a central laptop located in the city of Udaipur at the Narayan Sewa Sansthan hospital, which has graciously offered their staff and facilities to serve as the base of the project.

This summer we're going to pilot the project. In the first few weeks, we'll be meeting with the hospital doctors, cell phone companies, and those who work with the villagers to make sure that such a project is feasible. Then for three weeks, we'll visit the 50 villages and collect preliminary data—location, population, their receptiveness to the idea, etc. During the last week, we'll test out the service. In December, we'll return to fully implement the plan.

Throughout our trip, I plan to post pictures and video to the Greater Good blog, as well as to mobilizinghealth.wordpress.com. Stay tuned!

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