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When technology meets humanity to create better informed decisions

Image copyright: ©UNICEF/2020/Arimacs Wilander

Since 2017 Nokia has provided support to UNICEF Indonesia through UNICEF Finland for a mobile health program across Indonesia that has provided tremendous results in terms of basic health vaccinations for children and pregnant mothers especially, as well as data gathering capacity for healthcare workers across a variety of issues – nutrition, polio, HIV, water & sanitation and malaria.

During the current pandemic Indonesia has seen widespread community transmission across its 34 provinces. As of November, over 478,720 cases of COVID-19* were reported and 11% of cases were children under 18 years old. While children have largely been spared from the direct health effects of COVID-19, the crisis is having a profound effect on their well-being as existing inequalities are exacerbated. Children risk being among the pandemic’s biggest victims as it causes crises in child poverty, education, health, nutrition and child protection.

Based on the mobile health project support given by Nokia, UNICEF has been able to support the people and government of Indonesia by using much of the assets and learnings from the joint mHealth program.  The data capacity and learnings created from the joint program have this year been focused on the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects. 

With the strong data analytics capacity in place from the earlier program work, UNICEF Indonesia has been able to quickly respond to the crisis with digital and tested solutions. The team have been able to enhance data accessibility and actionability with rapid outreach tools and greater access to real-time information and expanded data diversity.

The pandemic work and data analytics have focused on four key areas: health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection.

An assessment survey by UNICEF showed that 76 % of community health posts were nearly or totally closed, with family planning, immunization and antenatal care services the most disrupted services. This created major concerns about outbreaks of polio, diphtheria and measles which are vaccine-preventable diseases. In response to the survey, the government of Indonesia developed guidelines and supplies for health workers to carry out their jobs safely and effectively during the pandemic.  

For the first time ever, based on the earlier achievements of the mHealth project, the local team were able to provide a view of usage rates across all public and private hospitals in Indonesia on a single dashboard. The data is used by the National COVID-19 Task Force to determine the disease transmission risk at district level.

mother and child

Image copyright: ©UNICEF/UNI350114/Ijazah

Building on the online immunization tracking platform developed for urban slums earlier, the platform was expanded into an integrated messaging service for child wellbeing to address crucial gaps during the first 1000 days of life (maternal, newborn, and childcare). This intervention is being piloted and is targeting 10 000 pregnant women and 25 000 children under the age of five across 600 community health posts.

In education, more than 500 000 schools were closed and switched to remote learning methods in March 2020. UNICEF designed a mobile message-based survey on parents’ and students’ perceptions of remote learning effectiveness to complement the existing surveys from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The survey showed that although more than 90% of students learned from home, 50% of students learned from home only 2-4 times a week, with an average study time of 1-2 hours per day. The biggest obstacles experienced by students were poor internet connectivity (36%) whereas for parents it was being unable to interact with the teacher (35%). The findings have been used by the Government to optimize distance learning and push for multisectoral collaboration to close the digital divide across regions in Indonesia.
Since October, UNICEF has supported the ministry of Education and Culture to monitor school re-opening.  

UNICEF also supported the development of a dashboard showing the availability of WASH services at health facilities and schools, mapped against COVID-19 risk at district level alongside local transmission occurrence. The results are used to inform the Ministry of Education and Culture to develop the safe school guidelines. 

In other areas, chatbots with a machine learning element have been used to drive data and information on malnutrition issues. Monitoring of adherence to preventative measures - safe mask use, social distancing and handwashing has been successfully deployed, along with real-time volunteer monitoring several times a day through chat. The information provides access anonymized aggregate data as UNICEF has been extra cautious to ensure the tools are also for a specified purpose and have no personal identifiers.

Collaboration is key in building sustainable and successful solutions to social challenges, enabled by technology.


Tracking progress against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As a result of Nokia’s continued program support, UNICEF in collaboration with the Indonesian government are continuing to develop the SDG (the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) Dashboard.

  • The SDG Dashboard provides an intuitive and innovative data portal to support analysis, informed policy choices and reporting on the UN goals at central and subnational level.
  • All SDG data for Indonesia is consolidated into one portal – with quality disaggregated data for SDG indicators from the national bureau of statistics (BPS) and line ministries
  • Accessibility to the portal for policy makers at national and local level, so that data can be used for planning and monitoring of SDGs
  • An advanced back-end system that is interoperable with the Government’s other data portals