Innovative mHealth Platforms to Improve Community-level Data Management

Aug 2015
“I am very pleased with my training on CommCare, which allows me to send important follow-up reports on pregnant women, referrals for sick children, and drug stockout alerts using my Android telephone in real time. The process is very easy! What is wonderful about this application is that when I send my alerts on drug stockouts or referrals for sick children to visit a health facility, a nurse responds to me right away! I am proud to be useful to my community, and they are grateful for my services.” - Community Health Worker Ms. Kondo Tchati
Community Health Worker Ms. Kondo Tchati   Credit: ARM3

From November 2013 to September 2014, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) supported the continuation of integrated community case management (iCCM) activities in five high priority health zones in Northern Benin where access to health facilities is limited. Working jointly with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and five local non-governmental organizations, PMI provided support to map the network of community health workers (CHWs), develop a database for those CHWs to report iCCM data, and reinforce the capacity of local non-governmental organizations to supervise CHWs effectively.

In two of the five high-priority health zones, PMI supported the launch of an iCCM mHealth initiative to improve reporting of iCCM activities by CHWs. CHWs complete forms through their Android phones and submit them via a cellular network to a web-based platform (CommCare), which allows administrators and statisticians to remotely access and track data on patient referrals, counter-referrals, and drug stockouts. The platform issues alerts so that local health professionals are immediately notified of severe cases and potential drug shortages.

benin-mhealth-chws
Community Health Workers in Tchaourou, Benin, participate in a practical work session to learn how to enter patient data in their Android phones. Credit: ARM3

To complement this effort, PMI, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has trained/equipped more than 1,200 CHWs in community case diagnosis, treatment and referral for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, using MOH-approved guidelines and standards. With PMI’s support and in collaboration with health facilities and communities, 17,375 children under the age of five have been tested with rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and 16,407 malaria cases were correctly treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

PMI also supported the integration of the mHealth reporting system into the drug commodities management system and its corresponding web-based software MEDISTOCKWEB, allowing for community-based data to be linked to health facilities and regional drug warehouses. Following trainings on CommCare in the Tchaourou Health Zone, the Health Zone Coordinator, Dr. Sossa, was so impressed by CommCare’s capabilities that he requested the application be installed on his personal cell phone, enabling him to participate in the activities and the submission of forms. Dr. Sossa’s commitment to the CommCare application and his assurance to support health staff using this reporting platform is a testament to the success of this mobile health project and its sustainability.

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