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Support Networks for Neurological Conditions on Google Maps, in Nairobi.

The idea is to create a mapping service that targets families dealing with a recent diagnosis of a neurological condition in their family. When a child is first diagnosed, usually the first reactions are denial, anger and confusion. Support networks often provide a platform through which parents and families can accept the condition of their child and begin to give the child the help they need to ensure they survive and thrive. The mapping service shows the parents/ families in Nairobi where they can access such support networks or facilities. This involves creating a layer on Google maps in Nairobi or an app, that one can select to show them where these support facilities, networks, groups and centres are and their information.

Photo of Cindy Obath

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After feedback from sessions at iHub Kenya and from people on social media sites such as facebook, this idea has been amended. 


"Meet Mary.She lives in a low income area called Mukuru, next to Industrial Area, in Nairobi. She's given birth to a beautiful baby girl who's been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Mary's Daughter is just 16 months old. Upon learning of this diagnosis, the father of the child left her, claiming she had been betwitched and did not want it to affect him. Mary is in a state of despair and denial. Her younger sister, who studies at the University of Nairobi, tries to help her by searching for information on Cerebral Palsy in Nairobi, using her phone. A google search gives her the option to select a map called 'Cerebral Palsy Information'- available on Google Maps. She accesses it, and a map appears that gives her information on hospitals, clinics, support groups, organisations, schools and professionals in her area that can help her sister. She reaches out to them and within a few months, Mary begins to bounce back after having accessed the necessary facilities that will help with the management of her child's condition."

Cerebral Palsy is the leading cause of disability in Kenya, yet the general public knows very little about it.Consequently, when a child is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, there is othen a negative reaction towards that child and suspicions of witchcraft are often aroused. This is the same for other neurological conditions such as Autism or Dyslexia.For a parent in this situation, it is important for them to have access to as much information on the various networks, facilities and services available to them. This idea aims to do just that by putting all this information together and geographically referencing it for use on Google Maps so that information is not only available on one platform, but the best choices can be made based on geographical proximity.

The mapping service will work just the same way Google Maps works. When someone accesses Google Maps, they will have an option for 'Neurological Condition Information'. When selected,  A layer will load that will show geographical locations of suppot networks, and other information such as contacts, number of people and meeting times/dates.It will also load other information that will be useful to parents such as health facilities, therapy centres, schools that cater for children with special needs.

Kenya has a significant number of internet and smartphone users, as indicated in this 2014 article: .
However, in low- income areas, access to smartphones can be difficult. Based on suggestions from the iHub meet up session in Nairobi on Thursday, we were led to a concept used in rural areas in Congo- Schools have a smartphone available for use by parents, loaded with the necessary information such as information on hygiene and sanitation.
This idea would then combat the issue of access to the internet and Google Maps by supplying either schools or religious centres with low- costing smartphones with the Google Maps app containing the support information needed and also other information pertaining to neurological conditions.

We think this will succeed for various reasons. Firstly, the use of the internet and services such as Google Maps is high and common in Kenya, particularly Nairobi. Secondly, a significant number of people have access to smartphones and the internet. Thirdly, networks provide the basis for many activites in Kenya, such as saving/ investing money in groups/organisations called 'Chamaas' or 'Saccos'. We believe support networks providing all the necessary information for Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions can be another network that can be leveraged by potential users. 

After a study was conducted in Mukuru (results on the right hand side of this page) and the results reviewed, the idea remains mostly the same but access to information would be as follows: 

Based on the number and location of mothers in the area, a central location will be identified. Once the smartphones have been made available in the  best location, chosen by the mothers in the area, they (the mothers) would then be in charge of keeping that phone recharged with airtime to access the internet/buy bundles to access the internet.   Every week, mothers in the area will collect about 10KSH or more (this depends on what they agree on based on their usage of their phone) and use the collected sum to buy airtime or bundles to access the internet.The schools will retain the phone at all times and make it available to the mothers in the area. To help ensure this, every school that has a phone will make a register of the mothers who have access to that phone in that area. This register will allow for easy collection of money and can aid in accountability issues regarding the use of the phone.


Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

This idea is designed for any person with access to the internet or a smartphone and wishes to access these support groups, in Nairobi County. However, the main target market for this idea is mainly mothers in low income areas who do not have easy access to this information in their areas.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

UPDATE: I previously had suggested that a survey could be done which would determine the access to information and smart phones in the area, and to assess the potential response to the idea in their area. Based on a meeting at iHub almost 2 weeks ago where I got feedback about the initial Idea. To further on the feedback I was given, a preliminary study was conducted in Mukuru, where 9 mothers of Children with Cerebral Palsy participated in a survey to find out what sources of information they first used when their child was first diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The survey questionnaire and the results results have been uploaded in a word document on the right hand side of this page. The results show that mothers of children with Cerebral Palsy, and therefore mother of children diagnosed with a neurological conditions, would appreciate information being kept in a central location such as a church, clinic, school or support group. However, none of them had access to smartphones, which would require that smartphones be bought or donated and made available at public places such as a school, which most mothers preferred. I intent to conduct the same survey in January with the Cerebral Palsy Society of Kenya that services parents in Donholm, Kayole, Pipeline and other surrounding areas, when families come back into Nairobi after the holidays.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We would love to get as much expert advice and feedback from the OpenIDEO community as possible to make our idea real. We would also need partners to make the idea a reality, specifically Google, because we wish to create the information available on the Google Maps platform. Should we choose to develop the application ourselves, we would need assistance from software developers to create an application that would be easy to use, yet contain the most information. Partners such as a telecommunication company like Safaricom, would be crucial. These partners could make the application available for free and also waiver internet charges for application access to ease the monetary burden for mothers with regards to accessing the application Surveys show that the mothers do not have access to smartphones and therefore we need to purchase smartphones that will be accessible at a central location that parents can access such as a church or a school. The number of smartphones will depend on the population or the area versus the schools/ religious centres in the area.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.


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Photo of Moses Wachira

Good job Cindy. This is an excellent platform for easy access to info concerning Cerebral Palsy. Is psychological counselling for the parents inclusive of this, perhaps in the local clinics or health centres?

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