Project provides info for migrant workers
September 23, 2015
In a recent blog for Grand Challenges Canada, Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine discusses some of the benefits from a Vietnamese pilot program which he is co-leading, to provide migrant women about sexual health information.
The project, led by Muhajarine and Dr. Lan Vu from Vietnam’s Hanoi School of Public Health, is called mHealth information for migrants: A pilot project to increase health information accessibility for migrants in Vietnam. Funded by Grand Challenges Canada, it provides reliable, low-cost health advice for migrant workers using technology.
As Muhajarine writes, the country has seen a massive increase of internal migration as workers head for cities to find employment. While Vietnam has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, people still face many challenges, such as low income, lack of family support, poor social benefits and trouble getting access to health information and services.
“Institutional barriers and cultural factors prevent these migrant women from accessing essential health services and the knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy in their new environment, especially concerning reproductive and sexual health,” he writes.
A key part of the project involves providing information on topics such as sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, contraceptives, safe abortions and pregnancy tests, for women via text messages on mobile phones. It also includes a phone hotline for counselling, as well as a website and discussion forum.
The project evaluation, as Muhajarine says, has found that participants have shown a better understanding of sexual health issues because of increased access to the information.
“The project proved that the mHealth model is a viable system for delivering timely, confidential and convenient health information to at-risk populations,” says Muhajarine.
For more information on Grand Challenges Canada, see http://www.grandchallenges.ca/.