By Rebeccah Bartlett, 2014-16 Rotary Peace Fellow, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Many refugees rank finding a job and getting a good education for their children as their most pressing needs after finding asylum in a new country. Access to healthcare barely makes their list, even though health affects their ability to acquire and keep a job as well as their children’s ability to perform well in school.
What’s more, refugees are rarely able to focus on accessing prenatal/postnatal health care and family planning services, despite the fact that 80 percent of most refugee populations are made up of women and children. Many refugees in transit through Europe have little or no systematic support or knowledge of the public health resources and legal rights available to them. They are also particularly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
Throughout my time as a Rotary Peace Fellow, I constantly thought about how I could work with Rotary to improve access to quality healthcare for refugees and other vulnerable populations.
mAdapt is a research project which aims to connect refugees in Europe with culturally sensitive, country- and language-specific information intended to address their reproductive health needs using a smartphone app. Additionally, mAdapt has the goal of assisting public health practitioners and data analysts in “crisis-mapping” the needs of refugees through the collection of anonymous data on what information and services were searched for most and where.
Why is this data so important? For years, women and children have ceased to be “counted” at both the global and local levels when it comes to policy-making and funding. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has recognized that closing the gender gap on data is so essential in empowering women to succeed and improving their condition that they have pledged $80 million over the next three years in support of projects that tackle this issue.
With the support of a district grant sponsored by the Rotary Club of East Chapel Hill in North Carolina, USA, the mAdapt team has made connections throughout the United States and Europe within the academic, technological, health, and social welfare communities and most importantly, with Rotary clubs across Europe and the U.S.
We will be applying for a global grant later this year, and welcome the advice of Rotary members and clubs. To find out more about how you can get involved, contribute to our research, or lend your expertise, visit www.madapt.org or contact Rebeccah via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Rotary Peace Fellowships