Community health workers at Dagoreti explain to visitors how the mobile platform works.
NAIROBI: Cecilia Wanjiku has been a community health volunteer for one year at Kawangware. She is part of the team of health volunteers covering Dagoretti sub-county.
Wanjiku’s work serves 100 households. It is an arduous task but she says she and her colleagues create time to do it.
“I ensure that I have visited all the households at least once in three months and on this phone, I can input records, register them for the health savings plan, and learn as well.”
On a simple smartphone she has three programmes running: an app that allows people to save for health financing, also known as M-TIBA, another app that allows her to keep the records of the people she serves in the community, also known as M-JALI, and an app that allows her to learn about health care services that will enable her to serve the community better. This is also known as LEAP.
The new programme is a partnership between AMREF and PharmAccess Foundation Kenya, which have come together to take advantage of the possibility of using the community health volunteers.
M-JALI, which is technically referred to as the community-based health management information system, focuses on empowering communities by collection and remission of timely and accurate health information from the community level.
The platform is run in partnership with the Ministry of Health to “facilitate the availability of this information to inform health planning at community and health service provider level”.
AMREF Chief Executive Officer Githinji Gitahi says the partnership is key as it rides on the strong base of health workers that AMREF has built at the grassroots. “Many Kenyans, especially in the informal sector, are not enrolled in the public health insurance scheme and an alternative way must be found to bridge the gap,” says Dr Gitahi.
Currently, only 25 per cent of Kenyans are covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund, which leaves a big gap that needs to be filled if the country intends to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
This could offer a vital lesson to the public health insurer on how to run its recruitment drives in the future. And Gitahi avers that NHIF needs to move from recruitment through the mass media to use of community health workers who can penetrate the grassroots.
Dagoretti has 80 health facilities and only 12 of them are public. The two public health facilities – Mutuini sub-county hospital and Waithaka Health Centre – cannot handle all the critical areas such as maternal and child health.