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Health Extension Workers mLearning training workshops

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During the last weeks we’ve been training a cohort of 160 HEWs and their tutors/ trainers in Tigray (Ethiopia) on how to use OppiaMobile. These first training workshops are simply to get the HEWs and Tutors used to the phones, find out what problems and issues they may have, navigating the courses and activities, recharging, completing quizzes etc.

The training is going quite well, and the HEWs (mostly women) seem very eager to learn how to use the phones and soon became quite comfortable using them. Over the coming weeks we’ll introduce more OppiaMobile functionalities  and we’ll find out what challenges may exist and the feasibility for using smartphones for training support in this environment.

We had a few of technical issues that we are looking at, but this is to be expected given that we’re still in the technical feasibility stage. One of the issues we’re still finding is the level of English of the HEWs, so we are working to provide a glossary of the most common medical terms and definitions in both English and Amharic / Tigrinyan.

 

Thesis: Intestinal parasitosis and under-nutrition in Ethiopia. Prevalence, risk factors and prevention

Mahmud thesis

Congratulations to our colleague, Mahmud Abdulkader, who has just completed his PhD in “Intestinal parasitosis and under-nutrition in Ethiopia. Prevalence, risk factors and prevention”. Digital Campus has been collaborating with Mahmud for the past years, so we’re really pleased he’s now completed and we look forward to continue to working and collaborating with him once he’s back in his full time role in the College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University (Ethiopia).

 

Could community health workers serve as mobile money agents?

Extract from posting in the Health Market Innovations blog:

A major barrier to mobile money uptake is the lack of a well-trained agent network to serve and address the financial needs of the community, with the greatest effects felt in remote areas. One way to address this challenge is to explore synergies between CHWs and mobile money agents, thereby leveraging the trust they have built in communities as frontline workers. Training CHWs to serve as “last mile” mobile money agents in hard-to-reach areas could extend the reach of both health services and mobile money.

The additional revenue potential could also be used to incentivize health workers to take up posts in remote areas. CHWs trained as mobile money agents would be well positioned to educate clients and communities about the benefits of expanded access to financial services, including paying for emergency transportation to health services or enrolling in insurance.


Read the full article
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Health workers’ experiences, barriers, preferences and motivating factors in using mHealth in Ethiopia

We have just published in Human Resources for Health  a new research paper, “Mobile health data collection at primary health care in  Ethiopia: a feasible challenge”. This article gives a detailed account of Community Health Workers’s experiences using mobile health data collection tools. Here is the abstract:

Background

Mobile health (mHealth) applications, such as innovative electronic forms on smartphones, could potentially improve the performance of health care workers and health systems in developing countries. However, contextual evidence on health workers’ barriers and motivating factors that may influence large-scale implementation of such interfaces for health care delivery is scarce.

Methods

A pretested semistructured questionnaire was used to assess health workers’ experiences, barriers, preferences, and motivating factors in using mobile health forms on smartphones in the context of maternal health care in Ethiopia. Twenty-five health extension workers (HEWs) and midwives, working in 13 primary health care facilities in Tigray region, Ethiopia, participated in this study.

Results

Over a 6-month period, a total of 2,893 electronic health records of 1,122 women were submitted to a central computer through the Internet. Sixteen (69.6%) workers believed the forms were good reminders on what to do and what questions needed to be asked. Twelve (52.2%) workers said electronic forms were comprehensive and 9 (39.1%) workers saw electronic forms as learning tools. All workers preferred unrestricted use of the smartphones and believed it helped them adapt to the smartphones and electronic forms for work purposes. With regards to language preference, 18 (78.3%) preferred using the local language (Tigrinya) version of the forms to English. Indentified barriers for not using electronic forms consistently include challenges related to electronic forms (for example, problem with username and password setting as reported by 5 (21.7%), smartphones (for example, smartphone froze or locked up as reported by 9 (39.1%) and health system (for example, frequent movement of health workers as reported by 19 (82.6%)).

Conclusions

Both HEWs and midwives found the electronic forms on smartphones useful for their day-to-day maternal health care services delivery. However, sustainable use and implementation of such work tools at scale would be daunting without providing technical support to health workers, securing mobile network airtime and improving key functions of the larger health system.

HIFA article on mHealth applications for provision of essential healthcare information

HIFA (Health Information for All) has recently published an article on the “application of mobile phones to enhance the provision of essential healthcare information for citizens in low resource settings … [segmented] by types of intended user, draws some conclusions about gaps in provision and makes some suggestions about ways forward.”

You can download the full article from the HIFA website at: http://www.hifa2015.org/wp-content/uploads/Ensuring-that-mHealth-applications-provide-essential-healthcare-information-for-citizens-in-low-resource-settings.pdf.

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Children Nutrition in Urban and Rural Areas of Ethiopia

We have recently had accepted and published a research paper entitled “The influence of father’s child feeding knowledge and practices on children’s dietary diversity: a study in urban and rural districts of Northern Ethiopia”  in Maternal & Child Nutrition.

Here is the abstract:

Infant and young child feeding has been recognized as an essential element to improve growth of children, especially in developing countries where malnutrition among children and its dire consequences are very prevalent. However, little attention has been paid on the influence of fathers on child feeding practices although fathers are very important in raising well-adjusted, happy and successful children. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the influence of fathers’ child feeding knowledge and practice on children’s dietary diversity.

A community based comparative cross sectional study was conducted among 850 eligible urban and rural households with children of 6 to 23 months. The father and mother of the child were interviewed on children’s dietary Diversity and fathers’ knowledge and practice of child feeding.

Nearly half (46%) of the children in the rural district did not meet the minimum dietary diversity, and in the urban district the rate was even worse (72%). Dairy products were the common food group given to the children in both districts, whereas vitamin A-rich food and other fruits and vegetables were the least commonly consumed food groups.

Almost all dimensions of fathers’ knowledge and practice were significantly related to children’s minimum dietary diversity; especially fathers’ knowledge of food groups was an important predictor (p value<0.001) in both districts. Interventions that focus on the fathers’ knowledge of child feeding, especially about food groups, is recommended to improbé children’s dietary diversity in the study communities.

 

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