Internews at Yale
Date Posted : Thursday, 14 Apr 2011
Internews’ HealthText project has been selected as a social enterprise pitch for presentation at the Unite For Sight 8th Annual Global Health & Innovation Conference at Yale University on April 16-17, 2011. The media project combines the use of cell phones, mapping and a community radio station to provide timely health information to people in Korogocho Slums in Nairobi.
Ernest Waititu of Internews in Kenya will make the presentation at the conference. The final conference schedule can be seen at http://www.uniteforsight.org/conference/speaker-schedule-2011
Internews wishes to introduce the concept for its HealthText project in association with partners HealthMap and Medic Mobile. The project will be delivered in the Korogocho slum area of Nairobi, Kenya, to provide timely health information to the community, in an effort to address current health issues and improve public health. In collaboration with Koch FM, the local community radio station, and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), the proposed project will ultimately ensure that citizens are informed faster about disease outbreaks and emerging health trends, becoming empowered with information to take preventative and curative action. Meanwhile, Community Health Workers (CHWs) will be able to target resources and communication to where it is needed, with their full network of colleagues serving Korogocho.
The Korogocho slum, located 11 kilometers from central Nairobi, is home to an estimated 250,000 people on 1.5 square kilometers of land, bordering the largest dumping site in Nairobi. The poor hygiene conditions in Korogocho have led to the rapid spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid and airborne diseases such as tuberculosis. Other critical health issues in this community include malnutrition, malaria and HIV. The lack of infrastructure is a major obstacle for health workers in delivering services to the slum settlement. These deficiencies also contribute to a lag in vital information flow and thus access to effective medical treatment.
The HealthText project will train Community Health Workers to send text (SMS) messages, via low-cost handsets, to a software system hosted by APHRC and provided by Medic Mobile. Their messages will routinely constitute initial intelligence about disease outbreaks, emerging patterns of concern in public health, questions and concerns from community members, and information about access to (or lack of) treatment services in different parts of the slum. Meanwhile, Koch FM’s radio journalists will be trained to use the innovative HealthMap platform to review aggregated data from the Medic Mobile system. This part of the process allows for the transposition of the full range of incoming health data, allowing a Clinical Adviser, journalists and others to visualize health trends and incidents. The combination of both systems will allow radio station staff to draw upon expert training to report a rich variety of demonstrably relevant health information back to their community.
A parallel research component to the project, implemented by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), will build a scientific, well-founded body of knowledge on Korogocho’s most critical health needs so that future investments in health can yield the best returns to this community.
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