Launched: December 2016
Health Post of Colibatan - 7:55am 1st of August, 2017
Colibatan is a small rural village on the border of Senegal and Gambia, 450 kilometers from Dakar, Senegal's capital and as such it has very little access to resource supply chains and poor access to major health infrastructure. It is the morning of the 1st of August when the head of the health post, Seydou Guindo, receives a distress call at the main health center. A woman has fallen into a diabetic coma - without immediate assistance the result could be fatal.
Head of the Health post in Colibatan - Seydou Guindo
Seydou checks her available ambulances; however, all are currently busy. Instead she sends an SMS message to UNICEF platform mInfoSante - which uses the available DHIS2 databases to coordinate around all surrounding health facilities to find available resources to help. The mInfosante programme is able to draw from regional health databases to find ambulances and other available resources from outside of Colibatan.
An available ambulance is dispatched and the woman is picked up from her home before being sent to the Maka Health Center nearby. She is successfully treated and her life is saved.
In 2015, Western Africa faced a devastating Ebola outbreak which greatly diminished resources of emergency health institutions in all Ebola affected countries - countries which typically have very little resilience in response to disasters.
In order to support the Ministry of Health of Senegal, Health workers trained in using Rapidpro technology developed mInfoSante - a health-focused deployment of RapidPro. mInfoSante is a free, 2-way messaging tool which uses SMS technology to link the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to health care providers and community health workers delivering Ebola assistance.
The health worker sends an alert through mInfoSante SMS Menu with a keyword that triggers an SMS survey for all Health workers their geographic area with a copy also sent to the district manager. Any receiving health facility with an available ambulance confirm by SMS with their phone number.The phone number is then sent to the health professional requesting assistance. This solution reduces the amount of time it takes to find an ambulance, alerts the medical community that a patient referral is happening, and leverages collaboration between Health workers.
Capitalising on the RapidPro’s open source software, mInfoSante is able to draw on on health workforce data from iHRIS to send specific messages (based on the category of staff, location, or other information) to health workers whose cell phone number is in the database and whose services are connected to the DHIS2 system.
The goal is to to strengthen coordination between frontline workers, health workers, and administrative services in delivering information support to the field level surrounding matters of supplies, institutional assistance, coordination and information. The mInfoSante platform groups and disseminates information to several existing open source health information systems, such as iHRIS and DHIS2, to accelerate critical information transmission.
mInfoSante has been deployed to 7 regions including Kolda and Sedhiou in pilot stages with a training involving 2,000 health workers from 6 health districts. The deployment of mInfoSante will continue in second semester 2016 in the regions of Tambacounda, Saint-Louis and Kédougou, in collaboration with Health Emergencies Operation Center (COUS), Department of Prevention of the MoH, IT Department of the MoH, ADIE (Agence de l’Informatique de l’Etat), WHO and Intrahealth.
The platform, initially developed to support the global response against the Ebola virus disease (EVM), is extended to help overcome the communication problems that sometimes exist between care providers and separate unconnected systems. mInfoSante is delivering 5 kinds of messages: coordination, alert system, weekly monitoring, training, and risk assessment. By supporting internal exchanges, mInfoSante allows staff and the Ministry of Health to be connected at a level which allows the dissemination of real-time information. It can facilitate the implementation of efficient and effective response in times of crisis but also in other contexts.
Since December 2016, 51 medical evacuations were reported using the mInfoSante platform.
The messaging used by Head of the Health post in Colibatan - Seydou Guindo
More work is required to bring this innovative solution to scale for the people of West Africa, in order to do so there must be a constant improvement of practices, resources and training to include and combine a wider range of life saving devices into the rapidpro framework. However this example, as well as many others, has shown that innovative ideas, applied in clever ways by dedicated people, can make a world of difference to those most in need.