Stanford University students Lucy Nemerov and Nadia Hemmat spent their summer working alongside the Digital Medic team in South Africa as design interns. They spent ten weeks creating informational posters with La Leche League South Africa (LLL-SA), a non-profit organization focused on breastfeeding advocacy and education. Here is a summary of their experience working with the two teams these past few months:
Access to stable care is crucial for the wellbeing of a mother and their child, yet many South African mothers struggle disproportionately with postpartum health. This issue is fueled by many factors, such as poor public transportation and unreliable access to healthcare facilities. Misinformation surrounding HIV transmission has also pushed mothers away from exclusive breastfeeding and seeking care in clinics — two practices crucial to a child’s healthy development. With this background in mind, we asked LLL-SA how we might help address the disparity in information and treatment access.
In order to create an accessible and cost-efficient resource for new mothers, LLL-SA suggested we design posters on topics ranging from proper latching techniques to managing a positive HIV diagnosis as a new mother. The LLL-SA team provided information for the posters and translated the content into 11 different languages. Thanks to these translations, the posters will be displayed in clinics across South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, and Botswana. Consulting team members from LLL-SA and Digital Medic, we explored many different styles and formats before landing on a standardized poster template. This template incorporated both the LLL-SA color scheme and health illustrations provided by Digital Medic.
Our work was also informed by a visit to the Vanguard Community Health Center, a hospital and clinic in Bonteheuwel providing maternity services to new and soon-to-be mothers. During our visit, we were able to meet and shadow several LLL-SA midwives and breastfeeding counselors. While accompanying the LLL-SA employees, we noticed many patients sitting in waiting rooms, sometimes for as long as two hours. While waiting, many were positioned near existing informational posters, which provided them an opportunity to learn more about maternal healthcare. This experience allowed us to see how the community might engage with the posters we designed.
Throughout the summer, working with LLL-SA and Digital Medic enabled us to expand our design skills and engage meaningfully with the public health field. We hope that this collaboration and others like it continues into the future, as there is much more to be done.
Two illustrations featuring breastfeeding mothers by Digital Medic, featured on the informational posters.