Project Masiluleke (the name means “hope” and “warm counsel” in Zulu) brings together a coalition of partners in South Africa and the United States to fight one of the world’s gravest health crises – the HIV pandemic in South Africa.
Determining how to intervene in this crisis was itself a service design challenge. It meant understanding the entire path a person might take from awareness to engagement, the challenges along the way, and the place where a technological intervention might do the most good.
As a principal designer on Project Masiluleke, I traveled to Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, where an estimated 40% of the adult population is HIV-positive.
While there, I met with and interviewed healers, doctors, activists, patients, and those at risk, to better understand the barriers to confidential treatment and testing options, and the opportunities created by new technology, particularly the then-ubiquitous mobile feature phone.
Through participatory design sessions with young people directly affected by the epidemic, I created ways for our target audience to shape the final product, launched on World AIDS Day, 2008.
Project Masiluleke leverages the brief “please call me” (PCM) text messages that SA carriers offer even to customers with no balance on their pay-as-you-go phones. PCMs are used extensively by young people, the population at the highest risk of infection.
MTN, the second-largest mobile carrier in South Africa, has since 2008 donated space in 5% of its PCM messages to Project Masiluleke, which the project uses to drive people to the National AIDS Hotline with messages in English, Zulu, Xhosa, and other local languages. The mobile interaction provides privacy not found in regional health clinics, and allows people to address sexual topics that might be taboo to discuss in person.
Over one billion text messages sent and counting....
Yale School of Management interactive case study: http://nexus.som.yale.edu/design-project-m/
User experience leadership
Scenarios and concept creation
Leading and conducting contextual user research and participatory design sessions, as well as synthesis sessions with the wider team.