HC3’s broad, comprehensive view towards information and communication technology (ICT) considers ICT any use of electronic digital technology that helps achieve project objectives – from web platforms and mobile technologies to eLearning and social media. HC3’s global web platforms connect social and behavior change communication (SBCC) professionals so they may share their experience and expertise. These platforms also provide access to high quality resources to help them do their jobs better, including advocating for the critical role of SBCC in public health.

HC3’s adaptable mobile solutions provide tools that target distinct user groups and are implemented at the country level to support frontline health workers, provide community members with access to health information and services, and allow SBCC program managers to rapidly collect data to facilitate informed decision-making. Both formal and informal online learning tools provide capacity strengthening opportunities around a range of SBCC topics, from introductory concepts to more advanced strategy building frameworks.

Taken as a whole, HC3’s ICT portfolio provides replicable, adaptable solutions designed to overcome challenges to sustainable development of SBCC capacity and delivery of high-quality SBCC programs.

Global Web Platforms

Springboard for Health Communication is a virtual platform for sharing SBCC knowledge, experiences and resources. Springboard supports and nurtures regional communities of SBCC practitioners, scholars and policymakers. To date, almost 3,700 members from over 90 countries have joined and are participating in more than 700 conversations.

The Health COMpass offers an interactive platform for finding high quality SBCC tools and program examples. The collection is curated, presenting resources that have been designed using a strategic process and have demonstrated success. Users can create personal libraries of favorite/most used resources, and can comment on their own use of materials they find.

Materials from campaigns are linked to one another, and “Trending Topic” pages showcase materials on the latest issues in public health. In addition, the Health COMpass offers outstanding “How-to-Guides” to teach/refresh basic SBCC skills, and highlights concept-to-completion stories of worldwide SBCC campaigns in its “Spotlight” series.   

Ebola header logo finalThe Ebola Communication Network launched in October 2014 in response to the crisis in West Africa. It houses an online collection of Ebola resources, materials and tools from and for the global health community. Nearly 350 resources have been uploaded, including not only SBCC materials like posters, brochures and infographics, but also Demographic and Health Surveys of affected regions, customized maps and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Zika logo new with green smallIn response to the outbreak of Zika in Latin America and its related birth defects, HC3 helped launch the Zika Communication Network in June 2016 to provide a platform for Zika-related tools and resources. Similar to the Ebola Communication Network, the ZCN houses high-quality Zika prevention and preparedness materials. Anyone can contribute to the ZCN, which houses materials in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

Adaptable Mobile Solutions

Health Worker Tools

BANGLADESH: HC3’s Bangladesh program BKMI employs a variety of ICT solutions to support its SBCC capacity strengthening efforts among the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and other stakeholders in the health, population and nutrition sector in Bangladesh. For program managers, an eToolkit full of SBCC planning, design, implementation and monitoring tools and resources is available, and two eLearning courses are available in English and Bangla on Monitoring and Evaluation, and Message and Materials Design (bdsbcc.org). For field workers, an eToolkit was developed containing SBCC print and audio-visual materials to support counseling activities at the household and community level. The eToolkit for field workers is available online, offline and as an app for Android-based mobile devices (BD HPN Toolkit). An eLearning course for field workers with eight modules is available online, and will soon be available offline as well.

NEPALPart of HC3’s mandate in Nepal is to strengthen the family planning interpersonal communication and counseling (IPC/C) skills of health workers and female community health volunteers (FCHVs). HC3 is working closely with the Nepal government and other key partners to enhance the existing classroom-based IPC/C trainings to include more scenario-based learning opportunities.  As part of this effort, the program is developing a multimedia distance education smartphone app for health workers and FCHVs, built on the open source OppiaMobile platform.  The app presents users with several decision-making scenarios, selected from the results of research conducted to identify key provider barriers in IPC/C, as well as key reference materials and resources that can be accessed at any time, anywhere, including at the point of care, to improve counseling skills and service delivery.

Direct-to-Consumer Applications

Smart Client is an ICT tool HC3 is developing to prepare family planning (FP) clients for active participation in FP counseling, using messages, skits, and quizzes and other “adult learning” approaches. The tool will be designed for mobile phones using an open source smartphone app that offers text-to-voice functions, or an open source SMS platform. In the first stage of development, the tool will be produced as a printable booklet to facilitate pretesting, finalization and adaptation of messages. The content will help women think through their fertility intentions and plan what kind of information they should share with the provider. It will also build awareness of women’s right for reproductive services, for respectful treatment and for independent decision-making; provide suggestions for key questions that clients can ask providers; demonstrate active participation and dialogue through fictional FP consultations; encourage peer, “sister-to-sister” conversation and social support; and provide Ideas on starting or enhancing FP conversations with male partners. Once the content is finalized, it would be uploaded on the mobile platform.

Brothers for Life (BFL) in Cote d’Ivoire is using an SMS-based intervention to increase HIV testing and counseling among participants of the program. BFL members are reminded by SMS to get an HIV test and encourage their friends and colleagues (also at higher risk of contracting HIV) to get an HIV test as well.  Based on the success of this program, HC3 is piloting a similar one but focused on improving antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and address barriers to adherence. This pilot will help determine if the SMS-based intervention alone or combined with the more traditional client-provider approaches will be more efficient and cost effective in improving ART adherence among HIV positive patients in Cote d’Ivoire.

Research and Rapid Data Collection

LIBERIA: During the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, HC3 used GeoPoll – a mobile survey research platform for immediate reporting of data through mobile devices –to gain insight into people’s comfort or anxiety about a number of topics. Those included fears about visiting health facilities and children attending school to concerns about stigma, employment, quarantine, and information provided to them from the government and international public health organizations/agencies. Results are available on an interactive dashboard that allows the user to choose either an overview of the data or a narrower focus by question/metric, measure, timeframe, and demographic (age, gender, country, province, district).

Also in Liberia, to combat Ebola rumors in real time, HC3 partner Internews implemented the DeySay project in collaboration with the Liberian National Red Cross Society, Project Concern International and UNICEF. DeySay uses SMS to detect and manage rumors about Ebola. When health workers, NGOs or volunteers become aware of a rumor, they text it to a central coordination hub in Monrovia. The information is then collected, analyzed for trends and disseminated to local media partners so they can stop its spread. The system also uses social mobilizers and aid workers to conduct door-to-door checks to address anxieties and misinformation.

TANZANIA: HC3 is conducting a household based survey to look at the impact of various channels (including ICT) of behavior change communication on family planning and reproductive health behavior among Tanzanians. The study will look at whether exposure to various on-going programs have an additive effect when messages are communicated via multiple channels (interpersonal communication, community groups and events, mass media, ICT, etc.). This study also includes a Facebook-based study where family planning and reproductive health outcomes will be compared across three groups: 1) those who watch a television drama called Siri ya Mtungi, 2) those who watch Siri ya Mtungi and “like” the show’s Facebook page, and 3) those who do not watch or “like” Siri ya Mtungi.

Online Learning and Knowledge Management Tools

Self-paced SBCC Training Modulesoriginally developed by Ohio University under the C-Change project, supports HC3’s core mandate to develop and strengthen competencies in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of SBCC activities. Since transition of the course to HC3: over 1,300 new learners have registered, 340 (25%) of them have completed at least one module, and of those 91 (27%) have completed all of the modules.

HC3 Webinars are designed to strengthen capacity in a variety of areas, from how to get research published to innovative gaming platforms for behavior change. HC3 to date has hosted 26 webinars related to SBCC and HC3’s target health areas such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and family planning. HC3’s Innovation Webinar Series focuses on a range of subjects such as social media, gaming and behavioral economics.

SBCC Implementation Kits or I-Kits are digital streamlined resources that walk users through the development of an SBCC approach to a technical health or organizational development topic.  Unlike How-to Guides, I-Kits focus on specific health topics or thematic areas such as urban youth sexual and reproductive health, or gender and SBCC. Each I-Kit is designed to give program managers concrete examples and support on how to impact health outcomes through strategic communication. They include best practices, templates, case studies, and other practical resources, including a link to How-to Guides. Most I-Kits use elements of a communication framework or model (e.g. P-Process) to walk the user through the strategy development process. This process is then divided into steps so that the user can access information that is relevant to their work without having to review the entire I-Kit. 

HC3 also is collecting evidence of SBCC’s impact on public health issues such as HIV/AIDS and the sexual and reproductive health needs of urban youth. It has packaged this evidence in the form of searchable online databases to help SBCC proponents make the case for communication. The HIV database can be searched by keyword, author, country, study design or communication intervention. The database is also searchable by the following HIV prevention and treatment areas: HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC); voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC); Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT); Treatment Continuum; Condom Use; and Other Prevention. The Urban Youth database synthesizes lessons learned, and offer insight into the elements that may yield more positive results for behavior change among urban youth.

In Bangladesh, BKMI is strengthening the organizational capacity of the three MoHFW units that are primarily responsible for SBCC in part by establishing digital archives of print and audio-visual materials produced by the units (see example). The archives help to improve institutional memory in the units, and also to facilitate coordination and avoid duplication with other stakeholders.

To learn more about the role of ICT and innovation in HC3’s work, please contact James BonTempo.