Let me start by telling you a bit about the organization I’m partnering with and the work they do. Shifra is an NGO in Melbourne, Australia dedicated to increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services for refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers through the use of an app. Shifra was started by a Gillings alum, Beccah Bartlett, and is the only organization addressing this need in this way in the world. When refugees, migrants, or asylum seekers come to a new country, they often have a hard time accessing the resources that are available to them due to language barriers, an unfamiliarity with the host country’s health system, and unawareness about their rights as a patient- such as the right to ask for a translator. This is even more true when the health needs are sensitive, such as questions about contraception and pregnancy. The app allows women to access the information they need, whenever they need it, in their own language. It launched about a year ago and is currently available for Arabic speaking women in Melbourne.
When considering my options for a practicum this summer, I was drawn to working with a small organization because I would have the chance to practice a number of different public health skills. This has certainly proven true! In the two weeks that I’ve been on the ground, I have been a part of key partner meetings, evaluating existing resources, developing marketing materials, and laying the groundwork for a process evaluation that I’ll be completing during the rest of my time here.
My main project is evaluating Shifra’s use of human centered design to create the app. I love this project since systems and design thinking has been my favorite class at Gillings! While it is exciting to be on the cutting edge, it also requires a lot of cross-disciplinary research to learn how human centered design has been used with refugees, how it has been used with mhealth interventions, and how it has been used to address sexual and reproductive health needs. In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to speaking with refugee co-designers and learning more about their experiences with the co-design process.