Transforming health services into places for belonging and acceptance
Sexual networks in Bangladesh are large, diverse, and interlinked. If a sex worker is also a person who injects drugs (PWID), or if a PWID needs STI services, the current system relies on the service provider to provide referrals. These referrals often are not made- and if they are, there is poor follow up. In the way that sexual networks are linked, the services designed to serve them need to be integrated.
HDI created ‘integrated health centers’ (IHCs), branded as Modhumita, with ‘memberships’ that connect clients with other services within this network. The significance of the Modhumita brand is that it represented common needs and aspirations of these marginalized populations, namely a ‘feeling of being cared for, respected, and treated without judgment’. This focus is reflected in the brand name: “A Sweet Friend’. To draw people to Modhumita IHCs, we:
Developed a branding strategy that tied IHC services with ‘friendship and belonging’ in the mind of the consumer.
Marketed as a club-like environment, including membership cards. The architectural and interior design reflected the stated needs of the target populations with facilities to refresh, relax and belong. This provided an entry point for health care services.
Services included peer training, behavior change counseling, condom and lubricant distribution, STI testing and screening, and HIV counseling and testing.
Branded IHCs as an appealing entry point of health care which merged consumer demands and quality assurance service delivery principles.
Focused on non-stigmatizing, judgment-free, and high quality care.
Developed ‘under the radar’ advertising, communication, and promotional campaigns to promote the services of IHCs to marginalized populations segmented and positioned to their unique needs.
Insight mining revealed different needs of services among not only male and female sex workers, but also hotel-based and street-based sex workers.
Created appealing, yet subtle, marketing materials (artwork, leaflets) that were understandable to those “in the know.”
Two years after project implementation, results indicated a strong association with the Modhumita campaign and a rise in condom use by sex workers and a significant decrease in self-reported STI’s. Clients reported a willingness to pay the time and costs associated with traveling to the IHC’s. Compared to centers that were unbranded, Modhumita centers experienced a five-fold increase in service uptake. Clients also reported that Modhumita centers made them feel more safe and respected when compared to other non-branded centers.