Amref Health Africa has unveiled an mHealth solution that seeks to revolutionise the way training of community-based health workers is conducted in Kenya and beyond. In Kenya, a community health worker receives basic initial training on health service delivery which almost always marks the end to any kind of health training throughout the life of the community health worker.
Through the platform known as Leap, a health worker is able to access continued training through their mobile device, peer learning through engagement with peers, strengthened supervision through direct access to supervisors, and access to updates and campaign messages as required.
Over the last four years, Amref Health Africa has developed the solution in partnership with the Ministry of Health, M-Pesa Foundation, Accenture, and Safaricom. To date, over 3,000 community health volunteers have been trained through mobile learning reaching over 300,000 community members with much needed health education and basic health services. The platform is very responsive to the need on the ground and has previously been used in training health workers on Ebola following the recent threat from West Africa. It has also been employed in mobilisation for immunisation and nutritional campaigns as prioritised by the Ministry of Health.
Amref Health Africa’s Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Githinji Gitahi said Amref Health Africa is focused on increasing the number of well-qualified health workers in Africa by providing training, medical outreach services and technical assistance to local authorities and ministries of health in over 30 countries in Africa.
In 2005, Amref Health Africa partnered with Accenture, the Kenya Ministry of Health and public and private health training institutions to pilot and launch the world-renowned eLearning programme which has skilled up over 20,000 nurses in Africa to date.
“Amref Health Africa has trained over 40,000 Community Health Volunteers through different approaches. Leveraging technology such as use of mobile telephony is an efficient way to achieve scale in achieving this target in a short time. This platform is therefore very timely given the proliferation of mobile phone ownership in Kenya and the Africa continent at large. With increased ownership of mobile technology amongst our Community Health Workers, the organisation has now embraced the use of this technology in training health workers in urban, rural and nomadic geographies,” said Dr Githinji.
Amref Health Africa’s Director of Capacity Building, Dr Peter Ngatia, said the mobile solution will be offered to stakeholders as part of the organization’s effort to scale up impact and transform it into a sustainable business.
“Through this mobile platform we can improve learning, collaboration and knowledge retention, reduced community health workers attrition and rapid response to outbreaks at a cost less or equal to traditional face-to-face training in the 13 counties where the solution is being implemented,” said Dr Ndirangu.
Amref Health Africa stakeholders include donors who are looking to provide funding focused on capacity building of the community health system and looking for innovative training solutions; implementers who are involved in capacity building of community health workers; Ministries of Health (national and county) in target counties who need to endorse and advocate for LEAP as the mLearning product of choice; Community Health Workers/Volunteers who are direct users of the LEAP product and need to advocate for it, Community Health Extension Workers who supervise community health Workers/Volunteers and need to advocate for LEAP and support users of the product.
“Our ambition is to enroll every community health workers in Kenya onto the mobile learning platform, so they can all have continued access to training and supervision with the Ministry of Health and NGOs offering targeted training and support more effectively to this critical health workforce,” said Dr Ndirangu.
Amref Health Africa mHealth solutions include supply chain management solutions to manage health facility supplies, awareness and demand creation through use of SMS based solutions; disease surveillance tools, basic and Smart training of health workers tools and data management mobile solutions. The LEAP mobile solution is now available to other stakeholders involved in training health workers to improve the outcomes of their development programmes. Amref has transitioned this solution into a social enterprise and is working towards replicating its use in other countries in Africa.