NAIROBI, 16 October 2023—The Kenyan government’s nationwide launch of an electronic community health information system (eCHIS) marks a significant step in the nation’s journey towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). To improve the quality of care provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs), the government of Kenya has rolled out the provision of eCHIS—a mobile application that supports the management of health services—to all 100,000 CHWs across the country.
This platform is one of the first of its kind in Africa, specifically due to its nationwide scale, comprehensive coverage of the entire spectrum of healthcare services, as well as its focus on Community Health. After a successful pilot phase of the platform in a few parts of the country, the government has now launched an upgraded version of the tool on a national scale.
Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and CS Health Nakhumicha Wafula visit a household in Kericho for a demonstration of service delivery and use of electronic community health information system (#eCHIS).
Having worked closely with the government during the conceptualization, development and pilot of eCHIS, the nonprofit organization Living Goods underscores the crucial impact of this digital tool in enhancing access to healthcare.
Thomas Opiyo Onyango, Country Director for Living Goods, Kenya, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We’re delighted with the Kenyan Government’s nationwide launch of the eCHIS platform. This transition signifies a shift from a reactive approach, which primarily involves managing illnesses in healthcare facilities, to a proactive model focused on delivering care to individuals in their local communities, right where they live. This innovation promises to greatly enhance the efficiency of Kenya’s community health system, improving healthcare access, particularly in remote areas.”
The eCHIS launch follows the Kenyan government’s recent revamp of the community health program. This transformative effort aims to digitize, equip, support, and provide salaries for all the CHWs, now referred to as Community Health Promoters (CHPs), across the country. The goal is to ensure every Kenyan household has access to well-supported CHWs offering essential healthcare services.
This digital platform addresses a multitude of challenges within the community health system. Prior to the introduction of eCHIS, the reliance on manual paper-based data systems resulted in poor data quality, limited accountability, misuse of health data, high healthcare delivery costs, and inefficient data utilization for decision- making.
In Kisumu, where the first pilot took place, CHWs are already experiencing the advantages.
Fanaka Nero, a Community Health Assistant (CHA) in Nyando sub-county, Kisumu County, said: “As a supervisor [of CHWs], eCHIS allows me to have timely data of the households in my catchment area. For example, CHWs are able to map out all the pregnant mothers more efficiently, which was not easy when using manual data. The exercise is fast. With a simple touch on the screen, we have all the data which is then synced to the Kenya Health Information System dashboard.”
The application also simplifies follow-up procedures by sending automated reminders to CHWs. Jael Atieno, a CHW in Kabodho west in Nyakach sub-county, Kisumu County, said: “I have been a CHW for 20 years. The introduction of eCHIS has made our work easier. The app guides and reminds me of what to do. So, I cannot forget anything. For example, I cannot forget to do a follow-up visit to a client.”
The Kenyan government-led eCHIS app is based on the Smart Health Application (SHA), developed by Living Goods in collaboration with its partner, Medic.
“In 2021, together with Medic, we supported the Ministry of Health to design the first eCHIS of its kind in Kenya. In the second half of the same year, we worked closely with the Kisumu County Government to pilot the eCHIS tool, learning valuable lessons, and paving the way for the national roll out,” confirmed Onyango.
“We thank our partners, including Medic, Lwala Community Health Alliance and the CHU4UHC coalition, for their firm support on this journey. Their commitment to community health workers made this milestone possible. While we celebrate today, we remain focused on the road ahead, excited about the future, and committed to maintaining this momentum,” added Onyango.
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About Living Goods
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and with core operations in Kenya, Uganda and Burkina Faso, Living Goods is a nonprofit that saves lives at scale by supporting digitally empowered community health workers who deliver care on call – making it easy for families in need to get the care they need. Living Goods works with governments and partners to ensure community health workers have access to digital technology, medical treatments, supervision and compensation to cost-effectively deliver high-quality, impactful health services. Learn more at www.livinggoods.org.