Throughout Dr. Jack E. Turman Jr.’s career, improving maternal and child health has been a passion — on the community, regional and international levels. In his short time as social and behavioral sciences professor at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis, Dr. Turman has expanded his public health research to include the soon-to-be-released Yma (“mom” in Moroccan Arabic dialect), an app to promote health of women across the life course with a special emphasis on pregnancy. The international app-development opportunity for Yma stemmed from collaboration with students and faculty at Hassan First University in Morocco.
“Women really wanted an application that they could go to anytime,” Dr. Turman said. “We made sure that all of the information is available in the app in one download in case internet connection isn’t available. This product is resulting from a really huge, dedicated team of students, faculty and community members coming together to do this.”
Yma was created with respect for Morocco’s diversity of languages and cultures and the importance of midwives throughout the nation. The app, available in English, French, Classic Arabic, Moroccan Arabic and the North African language of Berber, will serve women across the nation, and help midwives in their work, which Dr. Turman says “is really important because 80 percent of the deliveries are with midwives.”
While Dr. Turman previously conducted international research projects with physical therapy colleagues in Shanghai, collaboration with Moroccan peers is rare for an American scholar.
“They typically partner with European scientists,” said Dr. Turman, whose overseas work is funded by a recent Fulbright specialist award in global health and through Hassan First University. “Historically, they don’t have academic partnerships with American institutions.”
His work in Morocco has led to that nation’s first master’s degree in public health and a brand new summer internship for IU master of public health students at Hassan First University’s MPH program.