Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Monday, March 30, 2015

To Peru I go!

Whew! This last year has been absolutely, totally insane...and it's about to get crazier. 

In July, I moved to Colorado last year to begin an MPH program at the Colorado School of Public Health. It's been awesome so far! It's such a joy to be surrounded by people who want to make a difference in the world.

So many people around the world don't have access to clean water, sufficient food, or proper healthcare. Every day, people die from preventable causes. In my little corner of the world, in my own little way, I aim to change that. 

In November, I started working with CU Peru (www.cuperu.org), an organization that works to empower and educate village health workers in the Peruvian Amazon, and things have really taken off from there. 

In the region where we work, transportation is limited to boat, and travel from one village to another can be really expensive and time-consuming (gasoline runs above $9 a gallon, and travel time can be hours depending on how many times the boat breaks down). Patients can get really basic care from a health promoter in their village, but to get further care they may have to travel to a health post in another village up to 7 hours away. And sometimes, when they reach the health post, the provider isn't there even though it's during normal working hours; then they've just wasted precious time and money, and even endangered their health. 

I've been working over the last several months to develop an automated text-messaging system that can help with this problem: the "Out of the Office" SMS system. With this, village health promoters can text the health post before they send a patient for care and find out when the provider will be in during the next two days; that way, the patient and promoter can plan when the patient will travel to the health post. I will be pilot-testing the system this summer, and then we plan to scale the system to villages all throughout the region, especially ones that are more remote, and to expand the scope of the messages (for example, sending malaria test results to providers via text, saving them a several-hour trip to the laboratory, communicating disease outbreaks to providers and other PSAs, or interfacing with the early warning system for disasters). Additionally, if we get this system working, it could put pressure on the cell phone companies and government to improve the technological infrastructure for these remote areas.

The technological infrastructure is there. Our design is ready to go. All I need now is funding to do it! For that, I've set up a GoFundMe page here: http://www.gofundme.com/allisonmaytag . Any amount would be greatly appreciated!! And whether you donate or not, I would also ask you to share this link.

You can follow where your money goes at my GoFundMe page, on my Twitter account (@allison_maytag), or here.

I'll keep you posted with all of my adventures! Thanks for your support!


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