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Could a cutting-edge technology partnered with behavior change training help solve Indonesia’s stunting and malnutrition crisis?

Could a cutting-edge technology partnered with behavior change training help solve Indonesia’s stunting and malnutrition crisis?

There is a riddle at the heart of stunting and antenatal care in low-resource settings. Do we invest in training for community health workers, giving the skills and training they need to provide services to some of the most vulnerable. Or do we invest in cutting-edge technology, which gives us the ability to track and trace the growth of children in real time. The answer is: why not both.

Inspired by a Gates-funded study measuring the impact of growth charts in the home, The 1000 Days Fund has designed and deployed over 100,000 “smart charts,” as an early detection tool for children who have the potential to be stunted.

The cost-effective and scalable sticker, is colorful, life-sized, easy to install and stays on the wall for two years, successfully carrying children across the 1000-day threshold. More importantly, the smart chart has a unique QR code, which allows the monitoring and evaluation team from the 1000 Days Fund to track and trace the smart charts across islands and districts.

“We know where every smart chart is,” says Dr. Rindang Asmara, the COO of the 1000 Days Fund. “When we first started working on rural and remote islands, we were installing the growth charts directly in the homes, going door-to-door and providing in-home counseling. We quickly learned that the community health workers could install 5 times as many growth charts as we could. They had the drive and passion, they just needed a tool to convey messages.”

Then the smart chart took on a whole new role, explains Asmara.

“We wanted to figure out where the smart charts were going when we handed them over to government counterparts. So we created heat maps in an effort to understand what kind of coverage we could achieve. Now donors and policymakers can simply click a link and see exactly where the growth charts have gone and what percentage of houses we have installed them in. Moving forward we will use the QR codes to not only track and trace the distribution of charts, but we can add on features that help us households with malnourished or underweight children. We can flag homes so health workers can focus. Or we can deploy household surveys in real-time, for example.”

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