ACCESS Health International is a nonprofit think tank and advisory group with health programs in both low and high-income countries. It recently developed the e-AKaP project for targeting high maternal and child mortality rates in the Philippines, and addresses the health issues through a new delivery and training system for community health teams (CHTs).
Health goals in the Philippines
The Philippines has struggled to attain the decreased maternal and child mortality rates outlined by its Millennium Development Goals. The government’s solution has been to use CHTs as the main tool for expanding healthcare coverage for Filipino citizens. Over 100,000 CHTs, comprised of midwives, nurses, and volunteers, have been deployed to develop individual household health goals in each community and to target poor and vulnerable populations.
However, CHTs have faced setbacks because of the slow process of aggregating data, high cost of forms and materials, and an inefficient reporting system. Similarly, mothers in the Philippines do not have high access to healthcare information, which could mitigate health risks for both mothers and children.
The e-AKap solution
e-AKaP targets two root causes of MMR and children mortality in the Philippines:
- low training and skills for CHTs
- low access to healthcare information for mothers
ACCESS Health International’s solution draws on both innovation and technology. The e-AKaP project provides and trains CHTs to use mobile tablets to access the Filipino web and the application iCHT. iCHT provides access to forms and aggregates and processes health data, cutting down on time-consuming paperwork and providing quick access to information for CHTs.
The tablets provided to the CHTs are 7-inch tablet PCs with cloud-based admin panels so that health information could be easily accessed. The forms in the iCHT app are a replica of paper forms previously used by CHTs, so users are accustomed to the format.
iCHT also allows the user to create profiles, health plans, and progress charts for individual households. CHTs can track health progress and provide health information quickly for the households they visit. They can also address health issues for mothers and children on the spot.
The app also allows CHTs to report health information quickly to city and government health offices in the Philippines, which then use the information to track progress towards countrywide health goals.
So far, 130 CHTs have been trained and provided with tablets, and ACCESS Health International has presented the app at the Philippine mHealth Forum in April 2014. Because each individual CHT is responsible for about 50 families, ACCESS estimates that its project covers around 5,000 families in the Philippines. A study by the University of the Philippines Economic Foundation found that the iCHT app reduced spending costs associated with paper forms and also reduced time spent on related activities.
The project has been successful at providing CHTs with the tools to balance their heavy obligations and providing mothers and children with quick and reliable health information. Each family covered by the e-AKaP project now has a specific health plan to mitigate and prevent health risks. CHTs are given the means to target health goals and track their progress through this innovative technology.
Furthermore, e-AKaP provides the government with reliable information to target health goals and create policy that reflects the current situation in the country.
Grace Harter is a recent SAIS graduate