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UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu go digital to help marginalised women in Malaysia

University And Social Enterprise Focused On Women’s Health Partner To Combat Healthcare Disparity

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There is a great disparity in access to healthcare between those residing in urban and rural communities. Rural communities have limited access to quality medical centres and professionals, forcing residents to travel further for quality healthcare. Pregnancy complications, domestic violence, sexual abuse and mental health concerns are only a few of the issues faced by women everywhere, more so for those with limited access to the necessary resources.

To improve access healthcare, the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) and Hanai Jiwa Ibu Sdn Bhd (Hanai Jiwa Ibu), a social enterprise which focusses on women’s healthcare needs, have joined forces to develop an app designed to improve healthcare for marginalised women across the nation. Over the last three years, UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu, alongside St George’s University of London, Universiti Malaya and Universiti Malaysia Sabah, have been developing the Jiwa Ibu app, to provide localised and tailored information on mental, women’s, maternal and children’s health.

UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise and strengthen their relationship ahead of the app’s official launch to the public. The collaboration will allow for UNM and Hanai Jiwa Ibu to copyright and trademark the app, ahead of plans to work alongside Selangkah, Selangor’s healthcare app, to embed part of Jiwa Ibu into the system.

“For years, we’ve wanted to shift our focus to the rural and marginalised communities of Malaysia. Since the idea began, our team of eight dedicated women have run focus groups involving doctors, nurses, midwives, community nurses and everyday women, to better learn what the ideal women and maternal healthcare pathway should look like,” explained Hanai Jiwa Ibu Founder and CEO, Shamala Hinrichsen. “We don’t expect to solve the world’s problems, of course, but one tiny step forward is better than no steps at all,” she added.

In 2019, the team visited Likas, in Sabah, to alpha-test Jiwa Ibu, and to gauge the receptiveness towards the app. The event was officiated by then Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, YB Hannah Yeoh, who visited the women in support of the team’s efforts.

Whilst Hanai took on the role of app developer, UNM led the research on receptiveness of Jiwa Ibu, as well as its impact and effectiveness on women in these communities. UNM also advised on the app’s content, and factors impacting user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

“The Jiwa Ibu app is expected to benefit 15 million women across Malaysia. During its initial alpha-test, the app was downloaded by 3,000 women, with 75% returning to the app within the span of one month from downloading,” shared UNM School of Media Languages and Cultures Associate Professor, Dr Joanne Lim Bee Yin. “Based on the surveys and interviews that we carried out, 95% of respondents also shared that they wanted the app,” she concluded.

Leading up to the launch, the team has been travelling to parts of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia to introduce Jiwa Ibu to locals and train the local Community Health Champions (CHCs) to administer the app within their own communities.

Jiwa Ibu will include a directory for doctors and healthcare centres within the vicinity and other important resources, such as those for violence against women cases. Users can also store and track their own health records and seek medical assistance through the app. In an effort to be more accessible, the app will be made available in Bahasa Melayu, English, and other native languages.

Vice Provost Research and Knowledge Exchange, Professor Andy Chan Tak Yee, represented UNM at the signing ceremony, while Founder and CEO, Shamala Hinrichsen signed on behalf of Hanai Jiwa Ibu. UNM Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Dr Jason Pandya-Wood, UNM School of Media Languages and Cultures Associate Professor, Dr Joanne Lim Bee Yin, and Hanai Jiwa Ibu COO, Viviane Sobral, were also present at the signing ceremony.

The final version of the app is expected to be launched by October 2022. For more information, kindly visit this site or download the app in its current version via Google Play Store.

Image caption: (from left to right): UNM Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Dr Jason Pandya-Wood; UNM School of Media Languages and Cultures Associate Professor, Dr Joanne Lim Bee Yin; UNM Vice Provost of Research and Knowledge Exchange (RKE), Professor Andy Chan Tak Yee; Hanai Jiwa Ibu Founder and CEO, Shamala Hinrichsen and Hanai Jiwa Ibu COO, Viviane Sobral. 


For media enquiries please contact: Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager University of Nottingham Malaysia at

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2023, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide Sports University of the Year twice in three years, most recently in 2021. We are ranked seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. 

Posted on 18th August 2022

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