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MaD Mums - Mothers as "Doctors"

This concept should be a part of an overall strategy – EMPOWER THE PEOPLE of Caldas to take the destiny in their hands and build themselves a better life. This part concerns the improvement of their health and empowerment of women.

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Imagine a mother watching her child. She understands at a glance whether he is healthy as always or incubating an illness. Imagine a mother caressing the forehead of her child. She does not need a thermometer to know whether he has a temperature. “Mothers as doctors” wishes to build on this sensibility and empower mothers as healers in a region where access to doctors is very limited and children mortality still high (up to 4%). Children mortality can be ascribed to five main causes:

and researches show that mortality rates among children could be greatly reduced by cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation and oral rehydration therapy.

On these premises, a trained female population can become a valuable resource to provide simple health care and prevent serious consequences of most common diseases for children. The aim of this idea is to improve the health care service in rural areas by creating a capillary system of knowledgeable mothers easily at hands where a doctor is not available. Health care will be organized as a social business, and health care services and medicines will be provided for small fees to the local community.

1. Future health care provider (typically jobless mothers) will be offered a medical training focusing on most common diseases

2. A health care provider will be provided with basic medicaments, like disinfectant, bandages, anti-fever medicaments, condoms, contraceptive pills, and even penicillin as wide-range antibiotic. They will pay the medicaments they have sold and return the unused expired ones.

3. A health care provider will act as a first reference for most health issues in her community.

4. Each health care provider must provide at least one free-based training to another potential health provider per year.

5. Around these health care figures an educational program can be started for most critical issues such as teenage pregnancy, HIV, etc.

How do you envision this idea making money?

Mother as doctors will provide their services for a small fee, affordable by the members of the community. She will also be selling basic medicine, which she will pay back to pharmaceutical companies only if sold. This will greatly reduce the necessity of an initial investment to start the business. MaD will have a number of potential customers as big as the community she leaves in, since poor infrastructures in Caldas do not allow members of the community to reach doctors. Depending of the success of her business and of the incidence of particular illnesses, she will be able to widen her offer of medicine and therapies, or tackle more complex sicknesses, for instance by means of telemedicine or access to internet databases.

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

Through the MaD concept a reference figure for health care is provided to the community when doctors are not easily reachable. Making medicaments quickly available this idea will impact directly and efficiently the problem of mortality rate especially among children

How does this idea add social value at every step of the process?

The figure of women in Caldas society will raise and the community will be educated in the values of women. Women will be able to start small business while providing a great service to increase health of the whole community. A MaD will also serve as a center of knowledge for topics related to health care, nutrition, and diseases prevention. Ensuring that each MaD transfers her knowledge within the community by training future MaD, further knowledge “nodes” will be created, thus reaching a greater and farer amount of people. Around the figure of the MaD, an education program tackling critical issues will be started, increasing awareness of Caldas community, in particular the young components, for problems such as teenage pregnancy or viral illnesses.

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

This concept has the advantage of being scalable by involving Caldas government, medical universities and new graduated doctors to increase the initial training offer and reach more isolated community. To increase the efficiency of the project, Colombian universities could contribute organizing a Wikipopremedy: healing methods from Colombian popular knowledge will be collected, verified and organized in a Wiki. The purpose of this data-base, is to sort out working therapies based on popular remedies, such herbs, roots and so on. These remedies will surely more easily available to the population than official medicine.


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Hi Vesna,

Have you heard of Living Goods? It is an organization working in Uganda which seems to have the same focus as your concept. Here is a link It might give you more background and help in the further development of your project.

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