17 October 2016
mHealth4Afrika undertook a comprehensive needs assessment and baseline study with health clinics in Ethiopia (North Gondar), Malawi (Zomba and Machinga Districts), Kenya (Bungoma County) and South Africa (Eastern Cape) during November - December 2015 as part of the co-design process for an an open source, multilingual mHealth platform to support quality community-based maternal and Newborn healthcare delivery at clinic level in Africa.
The results from the comparative base line study was published in the proceedings for the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference and presented in the Scientific Programme on 15 October 2016 - Cunningham, P., Cunningham, M., van Greunen, D., Veldsman, A., Kanjo, C., Kweyu, E. and Gebeyehu, A. (2016) "Implications of Baseline Study Findings from Rural and Deep Rural Clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa for the co-design of mHealth4Afrika", Proceedings of IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) 2016, IEEE Xplore
IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) is a cross-disciplinary annual conference focused on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
GHTC brings together stakeholders from the public, private, education and research and societal (not-for-profit) sectors to address the critical issues for the benefit of the resource-constrained and vulnerable populations in the world.
The baseline study (which was undertaken in 19 health clinics across four African countries) provided valuable insights into human resource capacity, practical and technical challenges, and equipment and infrastructure related deficits, constraints and training requirements of healthcare workers. This baseline data was used to inform the user-centered design, collaborative open innovation based approach being taken by mHealth4Afrika.
Valuable insights into the clinical environments and constraints to be considered when developing potential solutions for resource constrained rural and deep rural healthcare clinics include:
- the need for intuitive, easy-to-use user interfaces to reduce the need for extensive training and technical support
- use of flexible data transfer protocols to facilitate cost effective and bandwidth effective data exchange; cost effective technologies to reduce costs of replication
- low powered consumption devices, surge protection and solar charging units to increase availability and reduce replication costs
- support for telemedicine due to a deficit of healthcare professionals in rural and deep rural clinics; and
- the need for easy configuration and adaptation to facilitate wider adoption
mHealth4Afrika is a three year collaborative Research and Innovation project, co-funded under ICT-39-2015 Call of Horizon 2020. It aims to leverage ICT to strengthen the quality of maternal, new born and infant healthcare delivery at clinic level, based on end-user requirements in the participating African countries.