Syrian refugees in Jordan

This is an excellent documentary (Portuguese subtitles only, sorry) about the conditions of life in a recent refugee camp. Raw evidence of the lack of freedom, safety or privacy, (green) space, (public) light, water, sanitation…Some challenges of supporting the population with healthcare are also shown. Newly built facilities provide care for pregnant women and wounded children who cannot be cared for in Syria since many facilities and supply chains have been destroyed.

Can you imagine that half of the population in this camp are children? A camp, built under the expectation of the arrival of more people…
How does the dramatic and downgrading change in these people’s lives affect them and the future of their children?

This reality must radically and urgently change. If conflict- and climate-driven displacement are but to increase, this is a global matter requiring global thinking. Solar lamps donated by Ikea allowed people to manage better at night. But the fact – amongst others – that women are still rape targets (by simply going out in the night to the toilet) and highly educated adults have no jobs, needs to be addressed.

That requires a more radical, systemic and emphatic mindset to aid.


The École Polytechnique Féderale de Lausanne (Switzerland) and a whole lot of partners have launched a project related with diagnostic imaging in low-resource settings. It’s called Global DiagnostiX and it involves the development and deployment of an x-ray device.

The project has a strong emphasis on the concept of ‘appropriate technology’ (a bit old fashioned) but has other unique points that make it very interesting and innovative, namely consideration for the whole life-cycle of the device, “to make sure that the imaging system is adapted to each step of this cycle and to the different people who will use it.”

In the website there is some information about ongoing research, sponsoring and activities.

How designers make better healthcare

Let’s start here…

These amazing fruit and vegetable images are made using hightech medical imaging. I came across them at Inside Insides website when looking for more about yet another very interesting project called Transparent Radiology.

Transparent Radiology is a project from Leiden Medical University funded by NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) to research about how design can improve doctor-patient communication. They are developing a whole new way of informing – and involving – patients during treatment and care. Exploring ways to explain radiology diagnostics using other nature wonders (than the human body) is just one way of doing it!

They will present their work at the Innovation for Health 2015 on February 5 in Amsterdam. I’ll be there!

Rethink Relief ’14

I just came back from Pader, Uganda, after the intense Rethink Relief workshop.

Pader belongs to the district of Gulu in Northern Uganda and it’s about 10 hours drive from Kampala through Lira. This region was devastated by a long war between the Lord Resistance Army and the government. This war harmed many Acholi communities, disrupted families and their homes. After several years living in displaced camps the Acholi people could go back but faced a difficult return and resettlement as coming back meant facing the devastation and the past fears.


Hall room at CCF House

View from the house

Our host, Caritas Gulu Archdiocese received all participants with a warm welcome and helped making this a great week! Rethink Relief brought together 16 nationalities and people with the most various backgrounds to focus on problems that communities face when returning from camps. We formed 5 teams, each with at least a design facilitator from the international organizers, an international participant, a local resident and a south sudanese refugee from Ayilo camp in the district of Adjumani, Northern Uganda. The teams were divided in the topics of agriculture, rainwater harvesting, cooking, preventive healthcare and lighting.

Amongst the many activities:
..we heard six speakers representing different perspectives who came to tell us about their experience with the war and peace process in Northern Uganda.

..we visited the Technology centre in Pader.

..we had fun activities to open our minds and use our hands.

..we worked in teams.

..and we had a final ceremony with presentations and dance!

Preventive Healthcare
I worked on the Preventive Healthcare team. We worked on a broad concept to support the healthcare of refugees during the future period of return to their communities. Within this broad idea we designed something specific for safeguarding healthcare records of a refugee household. We designed a packaging to be distributed to everyone at a camp containing for example hand sanitizer and mosquito repellent for babies. This package should be beautifully illustrated with “positive living”* messages and can be used to store the healthcare records of everyone in the household.

One of our considerations was to care for the HIV diagnosed patients. There is a tremendous stigma created around HIV. If you are diagnosed positive you will leave the healthcare facilities carrying a huge box containing some condoms, a tiny leaflet of “positive living” some water tablets and a white jerrycan. A white jerrycan will condemn you to be looked at and be segregated.

The package we designed should replace the need to carry this differentiated equipment home. It can be hung like a poster at home and can be transported when necessary. Everyone should have one.

* Positive living messages we though of include: how to make your own hand sanitizer, how often to feed your baby, how to wash hands and why to use a mosquito net

Thank you everyone!

Now there’s a good example of how to look at a problem systemically!

John Oliver gives a terrific overview of the evolution of Uganda’s laws on homosexuality and the build-up of public intolerance throughout the last century: from influences of british colonial days to hysterical american evangelicals to 21st truly unbelievable idiots.

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