Any story that starts with a beware of crocodiles has to be a good one? Well, at the very least an interesting one. The Jiwa Ibu healthcare app for women story does not necessarily begin with walking amidst, or above crocodiles, in this case, but it definitely tells the story of how to reach the communities we serve.
Here we walked on elevated planks among the community in Kampung Awat-awat near Lawas, Sarawak, Malaysia. These fisherfolk welcomed us into their homes as they worked away on their haul from the morning. A community that has been marginalised on many accounts, the women, especially said they would benefit from a mobile health application. Mobile phones they have, reception, sometimes wonky, but definitely available.
The Jiwa Ibu healthcare app definitely starts somehow with this woman, Agnes Kam. Her mother died in childbirth delivering her eight child, 28 days postpartum. I had watched Agnes’s documentary and knew that Hanai (a social enterprise focused on women’s healthcare needs) needed to shift focus to the rural and marginalised communities of Borneo.
To get things rolling on the Malaysian side, the powerhouse that is Yolanda Augustin opened multiple doors and guided us with her expertise, her connectedness, and her loving spirit to see the world a better a place. Team Hanai went on to partner with St Georges University of London, Universiti Malaya, University of Nottingham, Malaysia, among many others. Experts in their fields lent their brain power, time, in order to get the content for the Jiwa Ibu app going.
We ran focus group discussions — among doctors, nurses, midwives, community nurses, and the amazing women from the public who stepped in to lend their voices on what an ideal maternity care pathway would be like. While the Jiwa Ibu app cannot begin to resolve all the issues brought up, but it is a good start in the right direction.
Grassroots, academia, medical experts, local champions, our own team Hanai, what else was missing from the mix? Governance. Things usually work best with a good mix of everyone involved. And that is when, back in November 2019, YB Hannah Yeoh, the then Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development agreed to go down to the field, launch Jiwa Ibu, and see how a healthcare app would add value to the community she served.
But, to really get a good app, we needed to prod further. In February 2020, we went out to Likas, Sabah, to get further feedback from the community. Through the interaction, via our phones and tablets and getting women to download questionnaires, demos of the app, we had more focus on what to publish as the version of the Jiwa Ibu app.
In March 2020, team Hanai launched the Jiwa Ibu app to empower women, especially those in rural and marginalised communities.