A system to aid community health workers in rural Uganda track and treat pregnant women who are HIV positive to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Advisor: Gideon Dotan
In 2022, there are over 400 babies born each day with HIV, most from the sub-Saharan region. This is despite existing treatments that have a 99% success rate in preventing HIV transmission from mother to child during pregnancy.
My test case focused on Putty, a rural area of Uganda, a country in the sub-Saharan region that suffers from high HIV infection rates.
There are obstacles that make getting medical treatment difficult. My project deals with the economic and geographical barriers that make hospitals and labs inaccessible. There are also cultural barriers, such as stigma, discrimination, and lack of women's autonomy. Stigma also exists within family units and among couples. Spouses often stand in the way of women from retaining custody of their shared child. I chose to focus on pregnancy, a critical stage where one can truly impact the future of the baby.
One clear insight of the entire project was the understanding that a technological solution would not suffice to motivate real change. This required a shift in community views and perceptions. I understood that even with the most advanced technological innovation, I still must ensure that people actually use it.
While this product is designed for Africa, I did want it to depict a universal story, a tale of mothers and their children, making this relevant everywhere across the globe.
Part of my solution entailed creating a campaign designed to raise awareness regarding HIV prevention and treatment, focusing on spousal support and encouraging men in the community to get tested.
This was accomplished by conveying health information through agricultural stories. Community members have been working in agriculture since childhood and this is content that are familiar with, allowing for parallels between daily work (nurturing good quality and bountiful crops) and how to ensure brining a healthy child into the world. This is accessible imagery that may motivate men to change their conduct.
The values I brought forth were protection, warmth, compassion, and love, encapsulated in a universal maternal instinct. It was important to express an enveloping and accepting sensation, equating the two medical products to the bond between mother and child.
I believe in design as a means for human encounter, for sparking creativity between people and places, cultures, and the human spirit. I aim to produce long-term and meaningful processes along with shorter and more focused projects. My works stem from being attentive to the environment, to people, and to nature, considering needs, desires, and limitations.