Author: Earlene Barnes

Africare Awarded for Innovative Mobile App Developed to Measure Anemia

Africare’s Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program (MBNP) team received one of three USAID’s Global Development Lab’s “Innovation to Action Awards” last week in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the impact this innovation will have: breaking the cycle of malnutrition and anemia passed from mother to child, and engendering good nutrition and health in the crucial first 1,000 days of life, ensuring children grow, learn, and thrive.

The Africare-developed Hb Meter is a mobile device app for Android® smartphones developed to help program staff measure anemia levels in communities in Tanzania. It can tell if a person is anemic within 15 seconds without drawing any blood. Simply put an index finger on the device and the camera’s flash is able to filter through the skin to measure relevant blood levels, categorizing the result as “severe”, “mild”, or “no anemia” in line with World Health Organization standards. The app provides the results electronically on site, and can feed the data directly into health systems databases and dashboards, codified and anonymized to protect the privacy of each individual.

MBNP Testing at Muhimbili Hospital, Tanzania

Before the app trained staff has to draw blood, run a test, and read the results to diagnose anemia; this process took several minutes and was dependent on the individual being comfortable with having their blood drawn. The breakthrough of this invention means easy, fast identification of anemia without specific clinical training requirements, needles, or test kits; especially useful when working with infants or vulnerable adults, and in remote areas.  The cost of the test was also greatly reduced from about 62 cents per individual to 1 cent per individual.

An indicator of poor nutrition or underlying illness, anemia results in poor health, including loss of energy and reduced physical capacity. In Tanzania, over half of all pregnant women, and more than 1 in 3 women are likely to be anemic. Anemia in pregnancy is associated with illness and death of both the mother and baby, including increased risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, premature birth, and low birth weight. Africare’s Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program, funded by USAID and implemented in Tanzania, aims to eliminate 20% of all anemia in the first 1,000 days of life using social and behavior change communication to improve nutrition.

Throughout the continent Africare has been recognized for its program implementation excellence. As a top global innovator in Senegal, Africare received the Innovative Solutions Award to Prevent Infant/Maternal Deaths at the “DevelopmentXChange” Saving Lives at Birth Conference for a groundbreaking ICT platform to improve care in pregnancy, delivery and right after childbirth for both mother and baby in remote areas of Senegal.

Africare’s MBNP team was honored for this breakthrough mobile app at an award ceremony during Global Innovation Week held at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington D.C.

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Africare salutes Stephen D. Cashin, Chairman of the Board

Africare is proud to salute him as our Chairman and for his life’s work in devotion to the people of Africa.

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, conferred the honor of Knight Commander into the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneer on Stephen D. Cashin, Chairman of the Board of Africare.  He was honored for his work as an investor and philanthropist in Liberia for the past twenty years.  Mr. Cashin invested in a number of companies soon after the war in Liberia, principally the International Bank of Liberia and the Insurance Company of Africa, both of which have become leaders in their respective fields.  He has supported many causes in Liberia, including Africare’s efforts to establish birthing centers, the John F. Kennedy Hospital, and Think Liberia—an initiative to support at-risk girls.  He has also supported numerous education projects, including the reconstruction of the Elizabeth Tubman Institute and the Liberian Education Trust.  As part of his involvement with the Jesuit Refugee Service, he has supported the efforts of the Jesuits in Liberia in building the Holy Family Parish in one of the areas most affected by the war.  For his work with the Jesuits, Mr. Cashin received a special commendation from Pope Francis.

Africare is proud to salute him as our Chairman and for his life’s work in devotion to the people of Africa.

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Africare’s President and CEO, Robert L. Mallett

Africare’s President and CEO, Robert L. Mallett

A year ago I became the fourth President of Africare. It has been a rewarding and growth-filled adventure.  Africare’s work is important and purposeful, and for 46 years its work has been on the cutting edge of development in Africa, making it one of the most experienced international development organizations in the world.   

Across all of our geographies and at headquarters, the people of Africare come to work committed to our mission and focused on preserving Africare’s legacy of exceptional programming.  We are also testing and applying new strategies for organizational renewal and growth.  
 
While absent in the last few years, the newsletter will be but one of the ways we communicate with our supporters and friends.  The projects you will read about in the newsletter represent an affirmation of Africare’s history, and they point the way forward. We never forget that Africare is grounded in grass-roots development.  
 
Our ever-growing marketplace challenges demand that we modernize our approach to the work we do, seek new strategies to solve problems, and find new partners to work with us.  You will learn about some of those areas by reading our newsletter.

“It is an exciting time to be at Africare”

Many of you are continuous and long-time supporters and we are very grateful for your investment.  Some of you once supported us, and we invite you to renew your interest in our work.  Many of you have taken a passing interest in the work we do and now we ask for your support in more tangible ways.

Please be sure to sign up online to receive our newsletter so you don’t miss out on the exciting things happening here at headquarters and abroad.
 
We can only achieve results with your help. My hope is that you will join us on this journey.
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Africare’s President and CEO, Robert L. Mallett
Africare’s President and CEO, Robert L. Mallett

Monthly President’s Message – Social Media

The world is getting smaller. We are connected through the power of technology.  The internet. Smart phones. Computers, large and small.  Skype. FaceTime.  And on and on and on.   A few weeks ago Africare conducted staff training on how to use Twitter at headquarters and for 10 of our countries in Africa. The reviews suggest that it was a success.  (More on that later).

This training, as well as others we will undertake, is part of my key objective to create “One Africare”.  As many of you have heard me say before, our organization has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., but our mission is accomplished in districts and villages in the countries where Africare has a program presence. What weaves us together is that each of us, wherever we do our work, is committed to making African lives better.  That is the objective we share, and it is the driving force of our collective efforts.

To be “One Africare,” and to achieve our organizational objectives, we have to commit ourselves through a process of setting goals and financing them.  We do not just commit to donors.  We commit to each other.  We commit to our partners, with, and for whom, we undertake our work. I want to share with you what I believe these commitments are:

  • First, we commit to honesty and integrity.
  • Second, we commit to excellence.
  • Third, we commit to timeliness and responsiveness.
  • Fourth, we commit to innovation and entrepreneurship.

I am heartened by the stories coming from the people we work with in Africa.  Our programs continue to be designed to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Cookstoves in Nigeria, funded by McCann, maternity homes in Zambia funded by Merck, these are all examples of our projects and the depth and breadth of what we do on the Continent.

The mission of Africare is pretty spectacular. We enhance lives for the people of Africa. We see that conditions can change for the better. We work hard to make an impact. The people we touch will never know any of our names, and we may never know many of theirs.  But together we are making a difference. For now, that is enough.

Circling back to the beginning, I do hope you will follow us on Twitter. @Africare, our handle at headquarters, has been in existence a few short years and has already gained over 8,500 followers. We are currently following over 4,200 accounts and have Tweeted close to 6,600 times. You can also follow me at @AfricarePrezMallett.

I hope to “see” you soon.

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Pictured: Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, accompanied by a member from the White Ribbon Alliance, receives an informational folder about the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program by Tuzie Edwin, Senior Program Officer for SBCC (Mwanzo Bora) accompanied by Alfred Kalaghe, Deputy Country Director (Africare Tanzania). Photo Credit: White Ribbon Alliance
Pictured: Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, accompanied by a member from the White Ribbon Alliance, receives an informational folder about the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program by Tuzie Edwin, Senior Program Officer for SBCC (Mwanzo Bora) accompanied by Alfred Kalaghe, Deputy Country Director (Africare Tanzania). Photo Credit: White Ribbon Alliance

White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania

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Africare Tanzania’s Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program participated in “White Ribbon Day” organized by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania.  The day marked the launch of the “Zero Tolerance to Maternal Deaths” campaign.

The Mwanzo Bora team participated in the exhibition by providing materials on the nutrition program, its goals and objectives of reducing maternal anemia (for women of reproductive age) through the Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) kits, and how the program measures anemia via non-invasive mobile technology. The Africare Tanzania team had the pleasure of presenting to the guest of honor, The Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, about the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program.

 

Article written by Aliza Moorji-Hasham, Communications Specialist for the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Project.

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