Empowering Communities for Universal Health Coverage: Accompanying Kenya’s Ministry of Health 

In celebration of Kenya’s upcoming national launch of the CHT-based electronic community health information system (eCHIS), we’re reflecting on the breadth of Medic’s more than decade-long commitment of collaboration and impact in-country.

In part one, we highlighted Medic’s journey supporting community health in Kenya. In part two, we highlighted our collaboration with Living Goods – a partnership that led to the development of a powerful set of mobile and web tools to support their community health model. The mobile app, eventually named SmartHealth, became the early foundation for Kenya’s Ministry of Health-led eCHIS product, which will be scaled to nearly 100,000 community health workers.

In part three below, we detail Medic’s role supporting the Ministry of Health and the national consortium of partners making eCHIS a reality. By equipping Community Health Promoters (CHPs) with powerful digital tools, Kenya is transforming the way healthcare is delivered at the household level. The nation is also re-imagining how health data can be leveraged to track and resource the health needs of communities that continue to lack access to facility-based essential care.

Since our founding, Medic has been committed to bridging the gap between communities and essential care. We envision a world where every health worker is salaried, skilled, supervised, supplied, and equipped with well-designed technology as they provide timely, quality, equitable, and affordable care for their neighbors. We are committed to helping governments and partners create, own, and sustain systems that are accountable to an individual and community’s vision for health and wellbeing. 

As we execute the rapid national scale of Kenya’s electronic community health information system (eCHIS) and approach the presidential launch of the platform, themed Afya Bora Mashinani: Accelerating universal health coverage through digitally empowered compensated Community Health Promoters, we are resolute in championing the spirit of collaboration and innovation. We believe that digitally empowered community health workers – Community Health Promoters (CHPs) and their supervisors called Community Health Assistants (CHAs) – are empowered to advance universal health coverage.

Innovating upon a proven approach. If health systems adopt community health information systems for care delivery that are human-centered, locally-owned, open-source, and interoperable, then digitally equipped community health workers, caregivers, and individuals are supported and empowered to advance universal health coverage and improve health outcomes in their communities. With this belief, we have forged a deep partnership with the Kenyan government and a robust consortium of implementing and funding partners working toward access to health care for everyone.

Leveraging pandemic response for universal health coverage. As the Kenyan Ministry of Health effectively leveraged digital tools for community health provision throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they concurrently released the National Community Health Digitization Strategy, outlining the need and commitment to build a national community-level health system bolstered by digitally equipped, professionalized CHPs. 

Reimagining how healthcare is delivered at home. Kenya’s eCHIS will become part of the wider Digital Health Platform under development by the Ministry of Health. eCHIS, a co-creation between the Ministry and community health partners, aims to strengthen governance and leadership for enhanced coordination and implementation of community health services, enhancing data use for policy making, standardizing quality service delivery, and building the capacity of CHPs and CHAs. In the community, CHPs will use eCHIS for household enrollment, service delivery, client referral, supply chain management, community-based disease surveillance, and client messaging – significantly increasing service efficiency and accountability. Further, insights from data analytics will make way for smarter and faster care improvement decisions on a pathway to better health outcomes. By building a fully-scaled national workforce of CHPs, these critical frontline health workers will be empowered to provide timely care, prevent diseases and morbidities, and promote overall wellness within their communities. 

Scaling a proven solution with well-aligned collaboration. In selecting the Community Health Toolkit (CHT) as the foundation for Kenya’s eCHIS, the Ministry of Health signaled significant trust in the Medic-stewarded platform and its capacity to radically stretch to meet the needs of the CHT’s largest implementation to-date. Kenya’s consortium-based approach has been pivotal in driving national-scale impact to enable sustainable local ownership of contextually appropriate community health information systems. After an initial pilot of eCHIS 1.0, Medic’s role in Kenya’s CHU4UHC consortium and the eCHIS Technical Working Group transitioned from participant to primary technical advisor, providing deep accompaniment to our partners within the Ministry of Health and across the coalition.

Building trust through transparency and openness. From the very beginning, we recognized the significance of trust in building a strong partnership with the Ministry in order to ensure the success of the national scale up of the eCHIS. We engaged in open and transparent discussions to understand the specific requirements and challenges faced by the Ministry and the community health sector. This process allowed us to align our goals and objectives with their needs, ensuring that eCHIS would be a valuable asset for the Ministry in their efforts to improve high-quality, community-based care. By actively involving the end-users through co-design and creation, we ensured that the app addressed their needs, reflected their workflows, and provided practical solutions to the challenges they faced in their daily work.

Emphasizing human-centered design. By adapting user feedback, we demonstrated our commitment to continuous improvement and the willingness to meet the evolving requirements of the Ministry. We conducted comprehensive training-of-trainers programs, equipping the Ministry and implementing partners with the skills to train community health workers effectively. This approach ensured that the benefits of the app extended beyond the initial implementation phase and laid the foundation for long-term success.

Building for local sustainability for long-term adoption. Our team continues to advocate alongside partners and with local, regional, and national governments to shape and inform digital health policy setting, budgeting, and implementation through technical working groups and other mechanisms. Through in-kind development investments, hackathons, and capacity building initiatives, we have nurtured a thriving ecosystem of NGOs, CHT community technical partners, and Ministry of Health personnel. By enhancing CHT education and local ownership, we are strengthening the need for CHT adoption so that CHISs can thrive and sustain impact on health outcomes towards universal health coverage. Together, we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, leveraging technology to overcome challenges and drive meaningful change.

At Medic, we firmly believe that a healthier world starts with empowered communities. Together, we will write a new chapter in the history of global healthcare, where access to quality care is a fundamental right for all. Join us as we embark on this transformative mission.

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