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Women Ambassadors for Vaccine Education (WAVE)

WAVE will empower women advocates to engage their communities and change social norms around vaccinations.

Photo of Maidah Mir

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Describe what you intend to do and how you'll do it in one sentence (required 250 Characters)

WAVE personnel will be trained as points of contact for mobile units and equipped with knowledge about the who, what, where, when, and how of vaccines.

Explain the idea (less than 2,000 characters)

WAVE wants to motivate women, the primary caregivers, to seek out and fully utilize vaccination opportunities by making them part of the process, and therefore, the solution. A handful of women from each community will be trained on information about vaccines using color-coded calendars and pamphlets to make them a subject matter expert in their communities. They will act as a point person for mobile clinics, coordinating within their community leading up to a visit and assisting during arrival. We predict that interacting with a trusted community member at the site will help to create better associations with medical doctors. Fears and lack of knowledge about vaccines, as well as logistical difficulties getting to clinics or knowing about EPI sessions are major reasons that people do not get vaccinated. This is especially true for rural areas. An example is that of Uganda where only 55% of children aged 12-23 months are estimated to be fully vaccinated and coverage is higher in urban areas where 60% of the population resides (Malande, 2019). Our goal is to empower women in such areas to share their knowledge with others, thereby reducing misconceptions around vaccines. In addition, better coordination and communication about impending mobile visits can decrease reasons for missed vaccinations tied to a lack of awareness. WAVE will accomplish this by providing access to education and thus empowering women who will now have job opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them. We will start by looking at women who are trusted and influential in their community around the ages of 18-40. WAVE will work with an NGO or CSO to provide them education and compensation (for training days, assistance at the mobile clinic). WAVE would also encourage adolescent girls to act as volunteers to build vaccination knowledge in those who are future mothers and leaders.

Which part(s) of the world does this idea target?

  • Eastern Africa

Who are your end users and how well do you know them? (750 characters)

Our end users are primary caregivers within the community. These are typically mothers who may not be aware or fully educated about vaccines with regards to immunization requirements, scheduling and details, the impact of complete vaccinations, and how to get vaccinated. They are part of the same social circle as the ambassador and trust them as their social peer and a familiar community member. This, we hope, will enable a more open and intimate discussion around vaccination, and a better chance for the information and training that was given to the ambassador to resonate with the end user.

How is the idea unique? (750 Characters)

Our idea focuses on community and women empowerment as tools for change. WAVE will leverage existing structures by working with organizations that schedule and run mobile clinics. In addition, we will recruit individuals who are already trusted and respected in their social structures and educate them using a curriculum that is accessible to those with low literacy rates. Recruits will serve multiple roles as advisors and educators in their communities, assistants and recordkeepers for the mobile clinics, and a point of contact and coordination between the two. We believe that by empowering women through education and job opportunities, they can be a valuable source of access into the engagement and motivation of the entire community.

Idea Proposal Stage (Select 1)

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

How many months are required for the project idea? (140 characters)

We estimate baseline research and hiring to take 6 months, training to be 1-3 months, and implementation and evaluation to take 18 months.

Type of Submitter

  • Other

Organizational Characteristics

  • Youth-led organization

Organization Location (less than 140 Characters)

New York City, NY, USA

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (750 characters)

Although we do not as yet have a partner organization, we envision working alongside a group, such as the Youth Environment Service mentioned by Ochola Amosiah (, that has experience in engaging with the community over social issues to recruit and train our WAVE ambassadors.

How many people are on your team?


Tell us more about you and your team

We are a group of five NYU students, from disciplines ranging from psychology to engineering, participating in this challenge as a part of our Design Thinking and Creative Problem Solving class.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Maidah Mir  Heather Riess  Amrut A Patil  Mohamed Ibrahim  Shiyu Chen en I wanted to share the 3 prototypes your team came up with for your idea:1) "Bingo" calendar

2) Hexagonal timers
3) Light of Hope Light of Hope It is not necessary to be a pendant, it can be any native artifact wearable /non-wearable. It is technically possible to make this. By our rough estimation, it will not cost more than 5$ per piece (more research needed). Lesser with mass production.

Isaac Jumba Manisha Laroia Ashley Tillman I'd love to have your views on the 3 prototypes. The team has been trying to explore various ways to prototype the calendar artifact.

Ochola Amosiah If there's a way to show these options to your members and your team that would be great. I think it'd help the team choose an option and refine it. Thanks!
Temba Vicent Any feedback based on your experience with the communities you are working with?
Amanda Patterson, World Relief as you will see the team has been focusing on a specific aspect of their idea and it'd be great to have your perspective on it. Thanks!

Photo of Amanda Patterson, World Relief

It’s great to see these ideas and impressive that they can be produced for less than $5 each — is that the estimated cost for all of these ideas or just the Light of Hope?

With the Bingo calendar, is there a way to add a component that signifies how many or which vaccinations are required at each time? I know there are a lot of MOVs that happen because a child receives one required vaccine but not the other required vaccines for their age (either because of stock shortages, logistical challenges, etc.). I’d love to see caregivers empowered to track the fulfillment of actual vaccines, not just visits. This challenge seems to be addressed by the sticker component in the hexagonal timer idea, which could technically be applied to any of the ideas, though it is an added cost/step for users.

I really like how the hexagonal timer and Light of Hope take all of the guesswork out of keeping track of time. At least in our context of rural Malawi (and in other rural contexts), I am concerned about the technology required — are these battery operated devices? How long would they last? What kind of technology/electricity is required at the health center or the place where the device would be re-programmed? Also, are these items things that could potentially be re-used for future children to reduce cost, or is a new one needed for each child? Regarding the hexagonal timer, I’m also curious about your use of the hexagon shape — is that a meaningful symbol in your context? Is this shape adaptable?

Ochola Amosiah Temba Vicent Isaac Jumba Manisha Laroia Ashley Tillman Maidah Mir Heather Riess Amrut A Patil Mohamed Ibrahim Shiyu Chen 

Photo of Heather Riess

Hi Amanda Patterson, World Relief , My sincerest apologies that we did not respond to your questions sooner! I'll aim to address each of your points below:
-As far as costs go, we have not priced everything out quite yet but estimate all costs to be on the lower end.
-Bingo calendar: Sure, I think we could add some system that signifies that - perhaps the colored circle in the manual could have a number in it to signify the number of vaccinations needed for that phase. As you mentioned, it would be an extra step, but we could incorporate some sort of sticker system as well to mark the completion of that phase of vaccination.
-I'm going to pass some of the technology questions on to the engineers of our team and they will get back to you shortly! As far as the shape goes, it can certainly be changed. It did not have any particular meaning but came from an earlier iteration in which we toyed with the idea of something that could interconnect with other hexagons.

If you wouldn't mind, I would love to get some more feedback on the different prototypes based on your experience:
- Is something that hangs on the wall culturally acceptable? How about the idea of wearing a pendant?
- Are there any culturally relevant symbols that you are familiar with?
- Do you any difference in value between a device that requires a daily action from the caregiver and acts as a daily reminder vs. a device that alerts the caregiver once it is time to get a vaccination and removes some degree of human error?
- Some of our research informed us that time is viewed differently - more fluid or relative. In your experience, do people typically follow the same sort of calendar that we do to mark time?

I would greatly appreciate any additional feedback if possible! I would also be happy to switch to email or skype if that would be more convenient. Thank you again for your comments and questions!

Photo of Amanda Patterson, World Relief

Heather Riess - Great questions, we'd be happy to further dialogue. Please feel free to reach out via email - In brief, after working more with our field staff, the calendar reminder design was changed from a wall hanging to a playmat which is more interactive for the 0-24 mo old child. We've worked on simplifying the design as well after consulting both the community and an experienced user experience designer. Regarding human error, that is a very real reality and a good thing to point out. While we plan on distributing a calendar 'playmat' tool, that alone can not stimulate continued enthusiasm around childhood immunization. The the bigger part of our idea is the human centered design approach: we want the community involved in proactively ensuring that caregivers of young children remember vaccination schedules. We've found that having several church volunteers follow-up with a small group caregivers is ideal so that there is one-on-one relationship building to discuss childhood health and to prompt reminders, as well the volunteer is someone who is able to accompany the caregiver, usually a mother, to the clinic monthly. Similarly, fathers have a role to play in this. We already partner with the local church on family strengthening training and activities; we will be incorporating vaccination importance and logistics into these trainings and discussion groups. The church can positively influence behavior change as it is a center point in Malawian society.

Photo of Heather Riess

Amanda Patterson, World Relief - thanks so much for the response and insight. I'll reach out if we have any additional questions. Thanks again!

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