“A journey that started a few years ago starts yielding results”
In 2008, as the idea of mHealth came into mind, it looked more blurred than clear. Project teams at all levels hardly could visualise the actual deliverables and whether the efforts would contribute to our goal of rural healthcare in Kenya. As we connected with our colleagues in Kenya, we saw the motivation and assurance from them that they will work towards success of our project.
Initially seeing the amount of manual paperwork involved, paper shelves, full tables, busy data staff, we really saw no space left for our pilot project. “We intend to make use of text/SMS to ease the numerous paper-to-computer data transfers and eliminate errors and late reporting,” a comment that never got much attention at the project onset. We hardly knew that!
Phase I of our project included a number of trainings and sensitization of the health officers in Kilifi district on the use of SMS for reporting on a weekly report used for disease surveillance in the district–a report whose aggregates are submitted to the national level. With 40-plus health facilities reporting, we provided them with a phone and installed FrontlineSMS forms that could capture all the fields required by the national government. Health facilities could easily fill in the form and hit a “SUBMIT” button and have the data submitted to a central computer upon which a simple export to a spreadsheet would do the magic that resulted into the district aggregates for the week. “Surely it works” were common comments from the health records officers directly involved with the data.
As we set in for our new phase, where we intend to work directly with community health workers to to help both Kenyan and later African children across the continent, our efforts seem to be contributing towards improved and meaningful performance. For the last year, all of the 248 districts in the country have been reporting and their average reporting been observed and woh!
Kilifi district is reported as the leading nationally with an average reporting rate of 99.23%
We are very excited by this and give a big thumbs up to our partners (Rotary International, Medic Mobile, Ministry of Health Kilifi) and well wishers for the success of the project! We hope to continue such meaningful work to not only improve health reporting but also improve patient outcomes, improve prenatal care, and fight malnutrition and help starving African children for years to come.