We started today with four meetings scheduled but ended up having 6! And the last one ended at 9:40pm 10km south of Lusaka. We’ve covered the whole range of stakeholders today from UNICEF, through the Ministry of Health, to a private sector pharmaceutical distributor having to cope with the apparently random donation of drugs from well meaning donors which can completely undermine his business.
It has been very encouraging that the enthusiasm we felt from people when we were setting up our meetings has been matched when we have met them. What is really pleasing is the engagement with the idea and the insights that have been offered. The workshop next week should be really exciting in this respect.
An insight from yesterday was the idea that instead of rewarding people with currency transfers using a mobile phone, you would reward them with talk time which is effectively a currency and is transferred from phone to phone (or more accurately, from SIM Card to SIM Card) here in Zambia in payment for goods and services. This would markedly reduce complexity (which is something I like) of the motivational aspects of ColaLife.
Today came another idea from our meeting with the people at UNICEF. They are just starting a programme in three of the most remote districts in Zambia where child mortality is greater than 20% where they will be giving regular cash payments to new mothers. This intervention comes under the theme of ‘Social Cash Transfer’, which is so popular at the moment to counter extreme poverty and empower women. If we did a ColaLife trial in these same districts combined with a social marketing activity to make mothers aware that ‘New Mothers Kits’ were now in their local retail kiosk, then mothers could use their own money to buy them. This would by-pass the need for a mobile phone-based motivation and payment system all together. If there were a demand for ‘New Mothers Kits’, created by a social marketing campaign, and people had money to buy them, and the local retailer (and their wholesaler) could make a profit from selling them, then the motivation would be there to choose Coca-Cola crates with AidPods in them when the retailer collects supplies from the wholesaler. If you are baffled by all of this then please take a look at scenario 1 here.
We had our first challenges today from the PSI Associate here, the Society for Family Health which is a good sign. PSI are the world leaders when it comes to engaging with the private sector on health programmes so if they hadn’t had probing questions it would have been worrying. It will be good to have them on board. Their Program Operations Director will be attending the workshop next week.
This evening we met with Dr Prashant Yadav for the first time ever. Prashant has been a very generous with his support on the phone and by email since June and so it was great to meet him. He was able to give a perspective on the meetings we’d had during the day which was very helpful and has undertaken to make a few more introductions which will help bottom out some of the questions that we still have in our heads. He has also agreed to be a member of our Virtual Advisory Board which is brilliant.