EmpowerHack Health LDN: building e-health solutions for a mobile population.

By Charlotte Seeley-Musgrave (MSc Public Health) and Isha Berry (MSc Epidemiology).
EmpowerHack is a diverse community that aims to build sustainable humanitarian technologies for women and girls in crisis.
Read about how it all started in the first post: EmpowerHack: an inclusive humanitarian crises tech with a focus on women.


According to the UNHCR, over 59.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, of which over half are women and children. This mass movement of at-risk populations presents an enormous challenge: both to healthcare workers and health systems alike. To address the numerable concerns faced by refugees, countless groups of tech-savvy volunteers across the globe have come together to build digital solutions. However, Empowerhack’s uniqueness is in its focus on the vulnerabilities and risks faced specifically by female refugees.

Empowerhack Health LDN occurred over April 8-10th at Newspeak House. There were over 70 participants spanning a diverse knowledge base – all united in their desire to build sustainable humanitarian e-health solutions focused on women and child refugees. The weekend kicked off with a panel discussion on the Friday evening. Here, the Empowerhack Health team introduced the key issues that they aimed to address, and facilitated discussion among the participants about the potential problems and solutions. The Hackathon itself began the following morning with short presentations from some of the partners, including: Camille Tournebize from Terre des Hommes, Clare Shortall from Doctors of the World UK, Hina Javaid Shahid the incoming chair of the Muslim Doctors Association, and Maria Catrambone from Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The open panel encouraged attendees to ask questions about life in camps, and facilitated discussion about the presenters’ experiences of working as health professionals with female refugees.

empower hack friday panel
The Friday panel

In terms of the actual ‘hacking,’ the coordinators had carefully curated the proposed design challenges in partnership with specific refugee-health based NGO’s. By focusing on particular NGO needs, they aimed to ensure that the prototypes addressed a relevant health problem and had prospects for field-testing. Before deciding on a design challenge and team, everyone participated in an un-conference–a session in which attendees had the chance to discuss their ideas and questions with expert mentors. As teams formalized and ideas brewing, the rest of the weekend involved a mix of researching, designing, coding, consulting with experts, narrowing down, broadening, pivoting, and a whole lot of fun. By 5pm on Sunday, each team presented their pitch and prototype for the refugee-health app they had spent the weekend creating. A Livestream of the pitches is available here
The seven prototypes included:

Record on the Go— “Portable e-health record for long term refugee health care”

An e-health app that aims to provide longitudinal comprehensive care for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to travelling refugee populations. The app is designed to create a portable e-health record for individuals with NCDs to access in one secure location on their mobile phones. The prototype focuses on creating an interface between refugee patients who need to receive care specific to their condition, and medical professionals working in camps who have limited time to interact with each patients. The app is designed to facilitate an efficient interaction between a patient and each of the doctors they visit, while allowing them to have secure access to their anonymized medical history– overall creating a continuum of care.

record on the go

Mockup of RecordOnTheGo patient user interface


Draw my Life– Improving mental health support for child refugees camps through advocacy”

An accessible web platform that aims to host digitized drawings made by children in refugee camps, with the hope of advocating for increased child mental health support.

Hababy– “Supporting pregnant women in transit”

An app aimed at helping pregnant female refugees identify the top five red-flags of a pregnancy at risk, and increase both child and mother survival.

Health Starter

An online learning tool helping inexperienced aid workers hit the ground running with quickly absorbable child care, health, and mental health knowledge.

Herstory“You share, we listen”

An e-platform for storytelling and discussion, where refugee women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence and related dangers to share their experience and receive support.

Soul Medicine– “Supportive and uplifting words to help you through your journey”

A mental well-being programme designed to reduce loneliness and depression in refugee populations by sending motivational quotes and knowledge courses via SMS.

Vaccine Pass

A mobile app designed for refugee parents of infant children, which allows them to create a profile and track the vaccination status of their child as they are en-route.

Empowerhack London team

The final Empowerhack London family picture.

With another successful event in the bag, next up for Empowerhack is a hackathon in Amsterdam this weekend (22-24th). At this event, MSF and Techfugees will also be collaborating to continue solving female refugee health needs, and push the above prototypes forward into development, user testing and deployment.

Photos: Maryam Amstrad.
Youtube: Eddie Abou-Jaoude.

Amsterdam hackathon at CREA – 170 Nieuwe Achtergracht, 1018 WV, 22-24th April 2016. Tickets available online. Find out more on the Empowerhack website, Facebook or follow #Empowerhack on Twitter.



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