Personal health information is a basic human right that many of us don’t even realise that we possess. However, for many female refugees access to reproductive health services and information is limited.
Enter mAdapt creator, Rebeccah Bartlett.
mAdapt is a mobile app that provides information on reproductive health to displaced refugees. As it stands, one in every 113 people around the world is an asylum seeker. Women and children represent over half this population.
Due to their circumstances, these women can face a number of barriers in accessing essential information on things such as family planning, teen health and abortion care. The team behind mAdapt aims to address this growing issue.
mAdapt connects displaced women with culturally-sensitive and location-specific information on reproductive health in a language that they understand. The app was not conceived in the glossy R&D department of a multinational company nor was it brought into existence by a well-resourced non-profit. mAdapt was created by a group of university students at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health helmed by Bartlett, a reproductive health advocate and midwife.
Bartlett explains that the idea for mAdapt was generated in one of her mobile health units of study that focused on mobile-based interventions. Based on this class and her exploration of the health space, Bartlett developed the insight that, “data and tech literacy is what differentiates our current refugee crisis from its antecedents.” And it was this insight that informs mAdapt’s core purpose.
Bartlett describes the app’s mission as: Allowing women to find information they trust in a language they understand.
Based on Bartlett’s research, she found that language barriers are what preclude women from accessing a holistic reproductive health app with location-specific information. Although there are a plethora of reproductive health apps on the market, nearly all the apps that cater to languages other than English are based in the countries of the language’s nativity.
Consequently, the 40,000 Syrian refugees who are women and children applying for asylum in Stockholm have no app that will give them location-based, reproductive health information. That’s why mAdapt is initially launching their app in Stockholm, one of the largest hubs for displaced refugees. The app will provide information in words, images and videos to cater for different learning styles and literacy levels.
Fueled by the desire to empower women through learning, Bartlett and her team of multidisciplinary professionals have dedicated two years to making mAdapt a reality.
Bartlett doesn’t see mAdapt as a product. But rather, as a tool that’s part of a paradigm shift in the portrayal and care of refugees. Thus creating a perceptual shift from refugees as victims to a, “powerful and resilient people.” Bartlett hopes that mAdapt will inform government policy through data collection. By providing a safe and trusted source of information, mAdapt will use the data they collect to inform future funding and even government policy by quantitating an aspect of the refugee experience.
The road to starting your app can be daunting, but Bartlett describes the feeling of creating something that makes a difference as, “self-perpetuating, rewarding and validating.”
To all the code crunchers, starry-eyed dreamers and people who have that one idea that they never get around to actualizing, Bartlett gives the advice: “Talk about it. Find other people and solve it together.”
mAdapt will be launching their game-changing app on August 2nd.
Wednesday August 2nd
One Roof Women’s co-working space,
77-79 City Road, Southbank from 6:30-8pm.
Written by Zoe Finkelstein
Digital Content Intern @ Code Like a Girl