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inSCALE Technology Innovation in Uganda

Dec 18, 2012

In Uganda, the inSCALE project is working in eight mid-western districts to positively impact upon the factors that can improve Village Health Team (VHT) motivation, performance and appropriate treatment of children. As part of a randomised control trial, the project is implementing two interventions (in 13 sub-counties each) and comparing their impact with each other and a control group (in 13 sub counties?).

The first intervention, which you can read about here, being implemented in 500 villages in 13 sub-counties focuses on increasing community understanding and uptake of the VHT services, and aims to empower the VHTs through Village Health Clubs. These community clubs formed in each village, are open to all, and aim to improve motivation and performance through increasing appreciation of the VHT role and responsibilities within the communities.

The second intervention, being implemented in 13 sub-counties is called the Mobile VHT Support System and focuses on using affordable mobile phones to improve crucial parts of a VHT’s job such as support supervision, data submission with automated individual feedback and regular motivational messages on how to improve performance. The software used has been designed and developed by the inSCALE team in partnership with the Ugandan based companies Text To Change and Scyfy Technologies. It is based on formative research and stakeholder consultations conducted by inSCALE and features very specific requirements and tools.

The use of mobile phones is intended to increase the status and standing of the VHTs in their communities and allow frequent feedback and support from the VHT supervisors based on submitted data. This will provide the desired performance-based feedback and promote connectedness to their supervisors and other VHTs. It will increase the frequency and quality of contact between supervisor and VHT through the establishment of closed user groups (CUG).  Through the CUG, which are currently provided at a subsidised rate by MTN, VHTs will be able to make unlimited, free calls to each other and their supervisors. VHTs will also report data on their medicine stocks on a weekly basis in order to avoid any stock-outs.

Currently, the Ministry of Health, with technical support from UNICEF, is rolling out mTRAC, a mobile platform for monitoring essential medicine supplies and cases treated using mobile phones and Rapid SMS. This is being used at health facilities and for VHTs in five districts of Central Uganda. The ongoing inSCALE intervention, through the evaluation of the randomised control trial, has a significant role to play in providing information and evidence for the use of mobile technology to support the work of community health workers in the country. The intention is for research findings and lessons learned to feed into a national eHealth strategy by identifying features that could be combined with mTRAC. This would maximise the benefit of the platform and provide VHTs with the  most cost effective and easy to use tool. Features from inSCALE and mTRAC combined can create a toolkit which would look holistically at motivation, performance, data submission and its use.

Click here to find out more about the inSCALE Mobile VHT Support System.

Visit the Text to Change website

To find out more about mTRAC, please visit the UNICEF website.

For more information, please contact inscale@malariaconsortium.org

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