New App helps community health volunteers in treatment, monitoring of patients and collection of data
A modern technology is revolutionising health service delivery at the home level in rural villages of malaria-prone Kisii county and its environs.
Health officials and stakeholders in community health services say adoption of the e-health applications (App) is bringing down the number of patients suffering from malaria.
The mobile phone application introduced in the county three years ago, has come in handy for Community Health Volunteers (CHVs).
Living Goods, a local Non Governmental Organisation and Medic Mobile, a technology firm that provides health solutions developed the technology. Uganda and Myanmar have benefited from the technology.
“Mobile phones are effective in transformative development. They are driving major gains in health education. Life saving health services reach communities faster and reach the last mile,” says living Goods Country Director Thomas Onyango.
He says the technology had improved treatment and monitoring of patients. “Simple reminders to complete treatment improve health impact,” says Onyango. It also drives effective supervision at every level of operations.
“The technology has simplified my work. I use their smart phone to register every pregnant woman and new born child in the area under my jurisdiction,” says Evelyn Nyamari, volunteer from Riamakora village in Bonchari.
Once enrolled, the new mothers receive automated stage and age appropriate SMS messages to promote a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
“The free SMS service improves health impact and help workers build stronger customer relationships,” says Onyango.
The volunteers use the technology to collect data – useful in malaria, diarrhea malnutrition and upper respiratory infections.
“It has replaced the tedious traditional paper work used by CHVs in the past. Monitoring of the health condition of a patient has been simplified while gaps during data collection has been minimised,” observes Onyango.
The smart health app has an algorithm which basically replaces the hard copy tools CHVs usually carry around. The app also guides the CHVs on what questions to ask, what to look out for and what medicine – including dosages – to dispense.
“South Mugirango was the worst hit. Malaria is still there. But not as bad as before. A three per cent reduction rate has been achieved. Prevention measures and control is easy,” says Kisii County Executive in charge of health service Sarah A. Omache.
According to Omache, information about measures locals can take to protect themselves from the disease is made available by the technology.
Senior Manager Advocacy at the NGO, Howard Akimala says the app guides a CHV on the questions to ask a client for the purposes of establishing if one is suffering from malaria.
“Based on the response, the health person is able to take action like carrying out a malaria test, give drugs and in worse scenario refer the client to an established medical facility,” says Akimala.
He says the war against malaria control is part of a joint effort between the county government and his organisation.
“Apart from allocating more resources, accurate and correct information on malaria, it is important to make sure communities are able to respond and utilise malaria interventions in an appropriate manner,” says Akimala.
An estimated 216 million cases of malaria worldwide were reported in 2016, a majority of which were in sub-Saharan Africa.
Of those infected, 445,000 died with 16,000 of the deaths occurring in Kenya. This translates to 1,219 lives lost every day, or nearly one a minute.
For children, malaria is a particularly devastating disease, with about 70 per cent of those deaths involving children under five. This is despite the fact that Kenya has adopted universal access to diagnosis and treatment services.