Amref Health Africa Interim CEO, Dr. Lennie Bazira S. Kyomuhangi and M-Pesa Foundation Executive Director, Les Baillie at the Nairobi launch of HELP.
The second phase of Amref Health Africa’s Health Enablement and Learning Platform (HELP) was launched earlier this week on Monday, February 2nd at the Michael Joseph Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. HELP uses basic mobile phones to train community health workers and also is a fully featured tool in monitoring the health of a community.
The event was attended by HELP partners Mpesa Foundation, Accenture, the Kenyan Ministry of Health, and Mezzanine. The partnership was originally launched in April 2013 to develop an efficient and cost-effective approach for training and supporting Community Health Workers (CHWs) and their supervisors, Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs).
“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 marginalized 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,” she said.
In its first phase, HELP was used to train 318 CHWs from three settings in Kenya – Mwingi (rural), Kibera (urban) and Samburu (nomadic). In its second phase, HELP will be used to train another 3,000 CHWs and 60 CHEWs over 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 Bob Collymore challenged corporations 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 Les Baille: “Mobile technology should be used for social good as well as for commercial good.”
The meeting was also attended by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Khadija Kassachoon, and the Governor of Samburu County, Moses Lenolkulal. The Governor thanked Amref Health Africa and its partners for supporting his Samburu 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,” he said, “Hospital deliveries increased from 18% to 23%, antenatal care visits increased from 23% to 27%, use of family planning services increased from 17% to 25%, and the immunization rate increased from 58% to 68%.”