Mobile app makes work easier for health workers
By James Ratemo, Nairobi, Kenya
Kenyan health workers are using the iAfya mobile app to learn and to educate the masses on health issues.
Dubbed ‘iAfya’, the tool by Avallain Limited, a social enterprise based in Switzerland and Kenya, is already being used as a professional companion by health workers at Coptic hospital.
The tool is gaining prominence since the mobile phone has become ubiquitous in Kenya and the region.
“iAfya Health Information aims at improving patients’ health status, decreasing the incidence of disease, and preventing costly complications. We do this by providing verified and contextualized health information at the right time and in a language understandable to the users,” said Shelmith Mumbi, Deputy Director, Avallain Limited.
The iAfya app can be described as a patient education tool. Anyone with a mobile phone can download the android app via www.iafya.org and access health tips which are useful for daily living.
Shelmith said in a three-month pilot exercise carried out at Coptic hospital, it became evident, that iAfya is a convenient and easy to use tool for patients to learn more about their health and that of their household.
“This is a great opportunity to reduce the amount of preventable emergencies, as well as support the health sector in managing the huge patient to healthworker ratio; by supporting nurses in their role as core patient educators in hospitals,” argued Mumbi.
During the piloting, iAfya Health Information mobile tool was used to educate patients in the maternal and child health clinics. The initiative continues to provide clients from the antenatal clinic, postnatal clinic, mothers at the well-baby clinic, and their spouses chance for a qualitative prenatal and postnatal health talk.
They are educated about their own health as well as that of their unborn and born children. The mothers receptiveness to the tool is revealed during the 15 to 30 minutes' interactive prenatal health talk at the clinic. Primarily, topics such as; antenatal care, breastfeeding, nutrition, basic first aid, vaccinations and family planning are discussed in the weekly sessions.
The mothers are allowed to freely share their health experiences under the stewardship of a health professional. The health professional responds to questions, as well as demystify myths and misconception surrounding health in the society.
"During my pregnancy, I was lucky to have iAfya app on my phone. I had so many questions and it was easy to get quick answers even in the middle of the night. Now that my baby is born, iAfya has been my close companion," said Mary, a new mother.
To scale up the initiative, Avallain Ltd. and Coptic Mission Hospital aim to support the expansion of the initiative to other clinics within the hospital.
Beside the maternal and child health clinics, the initiative intends to offer patients visiting the Chronic disease clinic, Family planning unit and Tuberculosis clinic with weekly health talks and basic training on how to access health information via their mobile phone.
“The integration of iAfya in our efforts to provide patient education service to our clients is not only helping us save on time and capabilities but is also empowering our patients to be knowledgeable about their health and that of their family.” Said Dr. Sherry Eskander, Program Doctor and Marketing Manager, Coptic Mission Hospital.