Open source app takes on Ebola and mental health in Liberia
Angie Nyakoon and Amanda Gbarmo Ndorbor are two outspoken and energetic women who oversee the Mental Health Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) in Liberia. Together, they're applying a new open source app called mHero (that was first used to help them deal with the Ebola crisis) to the mental health issues that have arisen in the aftermath of the epidemic due to displacement and abandonment.
For years, Liberia has been suffering from mental health problems so severe that they can lead to suicide brought on from a long running civil war and now the Ebola epidemic. To allow health workers on the ground and at the frontline care for patients, even in the most remote parts of Liberia, Angie and Amanda developed a SMS workflow that help them answer a series of questions about the prevalence of depression and other disorders. This information can also be used by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) to help alleviate the problems and find solutions.
The background story of how Angie and Amanda were able to move so quickly and creatively to address this need is based on a repurposed technology called mHero. Before mHero, the Ministry (MOHSW) didn't have access to this kind information because there was no existing health information systems to collect data on mental health indicators.
Now, thanks to Angie and Amanda’s good work, they have a start. mHero provides a trusted channel that facilitates two-way communication using SMS and interactive voice response for sending and receiving critical information to and from frontline health workers, in real time.