Rural communities have limited access to quality medical centres and professionals as compared to urban communities, forcing residents to travel further for quality healthcare.
To minimize this disparity, the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) and Hanai Jiwa Ibu Sdn Bhd (Hanai Jiwa Ibu), a social enterprise which focuses on women’s healthcare needs, have joined forces to develop an app designed to improve healthcare for marginalised women across the nation.
Over the last three years, UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu, alongside St George’s University of London, Universiti Malaya and Universiti Malaysia Sabah, have been developing the Jiwa Ibu app, to provide localised and tailored information on mental, women’s, maternal and children’s health.
UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise and strengthen their relationship ahead of the app’s official launch to the public. The collaboration will allow for UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu to copyright and trademark the app, ahead of plans to work alongside Selangkah, Selangor’s healthcare app, to embed part of Jiwa Ibu into the system.
“For years, we’ve wanted to shift our focus to the rural and marginalised communities of Malaysia. Since the idea began, our team of eight dedicated women have run focus groups involving doctors, nurses, midwives, community nurses and everyday women, to better learn what the ideal women and maternal healthcare pathway should look like,” explained Hanai Jiwa Ibu Founder and CEO, Shamala Hinrichsen. “We don’t expect to solve the world’s problems, of course, but one tiny step forward is better than no steps at all,” she added.
Leading up to the launch, the team has been travelling to parts of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia to introduce Jiwa Ibu to locals and train the local Community Health Champions (CHCs) to administer the app within their own communities.
Jiwa Ibu will include a directory for doctors and healthcare centres within the vicinity and other important resources, such as those for violence against women cases. Users can also store and track their own health records and seek medical assistance through the app. In an effort to be more accessible, the app will be made available in Bahasa Melayu, English, and other native languages.
“The Jiwa Ibu app is expected to benefit 15 million women across Malaysia. During its initial alpha-test, the app was downloaded by 3,000 women, with 75% returning to the app within the span of one month from downloading,” shared UNM School of Media Languages and Cultures Associate Professor, Dr Joanne Lim Bee Yin. “Based on the surveys and interviews that we carried out, 95% of respondents also shared that they wanted the app,” she concluded.