Amref Health Africa Partners with Kenya’s Ministry of Health on COVID-19 Response

by Noah Wekesa

Update as of March 17, 2020

Following Amref Health Africa’s commitment to support Kenya’s efforts in responding to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by training an initial 24,000 community health workers using mobile learning platform – LEAP, Amref will now scale up this training to reach Kenya’s entire community health worker pool estimated to be at over 70,000 CHWs across the country. Fundraising efforts are still underway to reach each and every community health worker to educate local communities on the disease.

Amref has also donated eight (8) handsets to the national COVID-19 Emergency Operating Centre. Four members of staff from Amref’s Kenya Country Program have also been engaged to join the team manning the 24-hour control centre.

The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly with Kenya now reporting three (3) confirmed coronavirus cases currently being treated at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), while 14 contacts have been quarantined at the KNH Isolation Unit at Mbagathi Hospital.

March 13, 2020

In support of Kenya’s efforts to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Amref Health Africa has partnered with the Ministry of Health to improve surveillance, early detection and track the spread of the disease.

Leveraging the innovative mobile technology – Leap, Amref and the Ministry of Health are launching a two-month campaign to educate health workers on COVID-19. This will enable health care workers to educate communities on the virus and relevant prevention measures. Using the mobile learning platform, health workers will also be trained to identify, isolate and refer suspected cases as well as maintain safety standards at points of entry or high-risk areas to prevent possible transmission.

The approach entails joint development and customisation of digital training content that will be deployed to health workers through their mobile devices (basic and/or smartphones). The digital content has been customized to fit the needs of the target audience which includes consideration of the skill level of the audience, language preference and preferred channels (text or audio messages).

Kenya has been identified as a Level 1 country for the coronavirus disease that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and national governments are working to put in place surveillance, prevention, and control measures.

With funding from the African Union Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Amref Health Africa will reach 24,000 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and 2,000 health workers at the facility level and ports of entry in Kenya using the jointly developed messages. However, these numbers are just a fraction of Kenya’s health workforce that can be mobilised to support these efforts. Amref continues to seek additional funds to reach many more health workers through the LEAP platform to educate local communities on the Corona Virus (COVID19).

Amref Health Africa has supported Ministries of Health and WHO during outbreak interventions including facilitating the provision of critical health care to remote communities across Africa as evidenced in participation during control measure roll out during the Ebola outbreaks in Uganda 2000 and 2012, Ebola outbreaks in Senegal and Guinea in 2014, Cholera outbreak in Kenya (2017) and Lassa fever in Nigeria (2018).

Amref has trained numerous health providers in infection prevention and control. This includes providing guidelines on specimen collection, storage and transportation for safe delivery of samples to reference laboratories for confirmation amongst other activities.

Emerging technology provides a great opportunity to break health system barriers to increase uptake and utilisation of services. With Kenya’s mobile penetration edging towards 100%, more and more Kenyans are increasingly using digital technologies. For this reason, the adoption of emerging digital technologies to increase access to health services, build the capacity of the health workforce, influence behaviour and promote positive health change cannot be overlooked.

In Kenya, Amref has leveraged digital tools to provide accredited training to thousands of health workers across all levels of the health system.

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