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MSPH student intern puts mHealth into practice in Bangladesh

Zeller BangladeshKelsey Zeller knows first-hand what’s required to take an mHealth intervention from theory to reality.

Zeller, a second-year MSPH student in International Health, is helping to develop a Virtual Vaccine Registry and related smartphone app to increase timely vaccinations across Bangladesh. Working with the Global Disease Epidemiology and Control program, she is completing an internship in Bangladesh under the JHU–Global mHealth Initiative (JHU–GmI) scholar’s program.

“Creating an electronic system while transitioning from the old paper-based system is an exciting challenge,” Zeller says. 

She has been making sure the needs of researchers and health workers on the ground are met by this new system, called mTika (Tika means vaccine in Bangla). When complete, mTikka will register infant births, schedule visits and update immunization history and send immunization reminders to parents. The app also assesses client knowledge and attitudes towards vaccines.

"Having Kelsey on the ground, working with our partners in-country, but also spending time in the field to document vaccination activities has helped us design a system that will meet end-user needs," says assistant professor Alain Labrique, JHU-GmI director and Zeller’s advisor.

 Zeller says she now has a greater appreciation for understanding what’s happening in the field before diving into a project: “The mTika team wanted to make sure we designed a system that was grounded in reality, useful for the health workers, now and in the future.”