newmediadev2009



What is MCHIC?
MCHIC is an approachfor collecting, interpreting, and distributing health information. The approach emphasizes the role of the community in the process. Whereas public health practitioners generally handle data and health projects with a top-down hierarchy, MCHIC engages and informs local citizens about their community's health.

Why is it important?external image File?id=dfjfvtsh_156hfpcnxgs_b
  • MCHIC empowers communities. It helps individuals understand changes in health over time. In doing so, it helps people to draw connections between their daily life and healthy outcomes. MCHIC emphasizes the implications of personal health decisions on longer-term results. Community leaders, mothers, and others can use this information to promote change within their community.
  • MCHIC reduces dependency. Development practitioners often evaluate the conditions of a community and prescribe solutions. When practitioners share the observations, they do not always communicate effectively, and rarely does the information enable the community to consider their own solutions to local problems. MCHIC changes this practice and encourages community members to engage in all levels of the decision making.
  • MCHIC is efficient. An ideal MCHIC system requires less intervention from those outside the community. If a system is properly set up, it can automatically generate progress charts, a basic statistical analysis of health changes, and other helpful information with clear and simple messages.

What's currently being done?
mHealth, the use of mobile phones and ICT technology for improving health outcomes, is a rapidly growing field of study and approach for development practitioners. Practitioners are using mobile phones for data collection, community polling, and information transfer. Excellent websites like MobileActive, The UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development, and Kiwanja chronicle the progress of these initiatives. MCHIC represents a complete framework for mHealth that no one has yet implemented fully. Nevertheless, components and projects in line with MCHIC's principles do exist.

  • Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation with Billboards
    • This article proposes that practitioners set-up billboards that ask for feedback via SMS. While this set-up does not focus specifically on health outcomes it embodies a component of MCHIC. It allows for community input with minimal costs. An ideal system would communicate the results of the poll transparently to all community members.
  • UNICEF RapidSMS Nutrition Monitoring System
    • One component of this system automatically generates progress reports regarding the progress of community health workers (CHWs). The reports are posted within the office where the CHWs meet. The system's auto-generating accountability reports is a crucial component for MCHIC

MCHIC within the Millennium Villages
The MVP has put great effort into the health systems of its communities. To date, much of the work has focused on improving human resources and infrastructure for health. In addition to paying community health workers, the project promotes an adequate per-capita ratio for doctors, clinics, hospitals, and emergency health services. A MCHIC system in these communities should be:

  • User friendly for community health workers to input data
  • Accessible to all levels of the health system and government
  • Tailored to malnutrition and the diseases of poverty
  • Valuable for those with low-literacy

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