This is Justina and Royce (with her lovely daughter ‘Memory’) and Jane after a conversation yesterday (22/10/10) afternoon. They spent about an hour talking about caring for children and diarrhoea with Cornelius acting as translator. Justine and Royce live in Ngombe Compound which is a legalised, densely populated settlement on the edge of Lusaka. I filmed the interview (with permission) and I will put this online as soon as I get a decent internet connection. The highlights of the conversation were:
- They knew what caused diarrhoea in children and they knew what to do when it happened.
- They said diarrhoea was very common and in fact Memory was suffering with it at the time.
- They knew about Oral Rehydration Salts which they referred to as ORS or ‘Glucose’.
- They said that ORS was often not available.
- When it was not available “you just have to use your initiative” talked about mixing up salt and sugar themselves but were worried about the measurements.
- Jane introduced the idea of the Mother’s Kit and that fact that this might arrive in Coca-Cola crates. They asked if the kit would be available in the shop or the health clinic.
- Initially their strong preference was for it to be available at the clinic. However, it appears that this response was confounded by the need to pay. They would rather travel (walk) further to get ORS for free. Jane talked about a voucher system that would allow mothers to collect kits from shops for free and then they warmed to the idea that the kits might be available in shops. Cost is a crucial issue.
- Both women had family in rural areas and they said that ORS was less available in these areas.
- Jane showed the women some baby products and they were very interested in these and not unfamiliar with them. If such products were included in a Mother’s Kit their first preference would be for Baby Lotion and then tablets of soap. There was no interest in liquid soap.
After the conversation, Jane gave Justina and Royce bags containing ORS, bars of soap, baby lotion and liquid soap. Royce said she had an immediate need of the ORS and would be giving some to Memory when she got home.
Earlier in the day we’d met with John Makumba of the World Bank and Mark Bennett of i-Connect who were conveniently located in the same building. The meeting with John was very encouraging, the World Bank has an interest in the project delivering Malarial Drugs (ACTs) and Rapid Diagnosis Tests (RDTs) through private sector channels and we can learn from this. Dr Prashant Yadav had a key role in the design of this programme and he is the latest member of our Virtual Advisory Board.
Mark Bennet turns out to be THE person to talk to for all things internet and SMS. A huge fount of knowledge and a sharer. The biggest insight from this meeting was that mobile phone banking is just around the corner ie not as far away as we expected. All Zain agents with permanent premises (ie everyone except the talktime sellers at traffic lights and those under trees on street corners) will effectively become Banks. There are 13,000 of these. Individuals will be able to have up to 3 million Kwacha on their SIM Card. Direct phone to phone transfers will be possible. The system will be Bank of Zambia approved and will link back into the traditional banking system via CitiBank. This will serve the 80% of the population with no bank account. It will revolutionise commerce especially in rural areas where access to cash is an issue.
In Zambia, 85% of the population has a SIM Card. To open a mobile bank account they will just have to complete a form quoting their NRC number. This may become the way to pay teachers and others living in remote rural areas. However, there will be a charge on transactions of 1-2%.
i-Connect also run i-SMS which provides bulk SMS services and they already have experience using this system for health-related messaging.