Amref Health Africa’s Health Enablement and Learning Platform (HELP), which uses mobile phones to teach and pass information to community health volunteers, was launched yesterday at the Michael Joseph Centre in Nairobi.
The event was attended by partners Mpesa Foundation, Accenture, the Ministry of Health and Mezzanine. The partnership was launched in April 2013 to develop an efficient and cost-effective approach for training and supporting Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and their supervisors, Community Health Extension Workers.
“These two cadres are critical to delivering Kenya’s Community Health Strategy, which is fundamentally essential for universal health coverage,”
said Dr Lennie Kyomuhangi-Igbodipe, Amref Health Africa’s Interim CEO.
The vision of the partnership, she said, was to develop an innovative mLearning solution that would address the needs of health workers in general but specifically those of the lowest cadres who had limited opportunities for basic training and continuing medical education.
“Amref Health Africa employs innovations to reach the marginalised and hard-to-reach populations. In the beginning it was the Flying Doctors, then came the outreach health services, then eLearning for training health workers and now mLearning and telemedicine. We apply the ‘tools of our time’ to deliver health training and services where they are needed most,”
The Platform has been tested in Phase I and is ready for further rollout in Phase II. So far, 318 CHVs from three settings – Mwingi (rural), Kibera (urban) and Samburu (nomadic) – have been trained and another 3000 CHVs and 60 CHEWs will be trained in the next 24 months.
The ultimate goal, said Dr Kyomuhangi-Igbodipe, was to develop an accredited mobile learning academy and to scale up and replicate the HELP programme nationally and beyond.
Safaricom CEO Mr Bob Collymore challenged corporates and the private sector to invest more in improving the lives of citizens.
“It is beholden on us all to use what we have to improve the health of our people. The private sector has financial power, whereas the government relies mostly on taxes. If we do not step up to meet our responsibility, then we’ll have a very big problem.”
His sentiments were echoed by Mpesa Foundation Executive Director Mr Les Baille:
“Mobile technology should be used for social good as well as for commercial good.”
He noted that the results obtained so far from the first phase of implementing HELP were significant and scalable.
“HELP is indeed model of shared value and true cross-sector collaboration for improving healtth in Africa,”
Speaking on behalf of Accenture, Managing Director Louise James stressed the importance of partnerships in tackling issues faced by society.
“Businesses need healthy, strong and vibrant societies, and so they must invest in these societies. Accenture’s corporate focus, said Louise, is to equip 700,000 people around the world with skills to improve their lives.”
The meeting was also addressed by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Khadija Kassachoon, and the Governor of Samburu County, Mr Moses Lenolkulal. The Governor thanked Amref Health Africa and its partners for supporting his County in its efforts to improve the health status of its people,
“Through the efforts of the Government and with support from our partners, we have observed improvement In Maternal, Newborn and Child Health indicators. Between 2013 and 2014, hospital deliveries had increasing from 18.5 to 23.8 per cent, ante-natal care visits from 23.4 to 27 per cent; use of family planning services from 17 to 25 per cent and immunization rate from 58 to 68 per cent,”