Major Area: HIV and AIDS and Children
Zambia has been affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic with an estimated prevalence rate of 13.5 per cent in the general population (UNAIDS, 2009). Females are more likely to be affected by HIV, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV accounts for 10 per cent of new infections. Due to limited human and infrastructure capacity, as well as geographic access, getting the early infant diagnosis test results from a laboratory to a health facility took for six weeks, up to six months or never arrived at the facilities. This delay posed a significant barrier to mothers and families seeking timely access to antiretroviral therapy for their HIV-infected infants. The project Mwana, a mobile health (mHealth) initiative, aims to reduce this delay and improve children’s chances for a healthy life through the use of mobile technologies.
Implemented by the Zambian Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from UNICEF, the Zambia Centre for Applied Heath Research and Development (ZCHARD)/Boston University and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the project went live in June 2010. It was piloted in 31 clinics in six provinces across the country and relayed more than 3,000 infant HIV test results. The project was designed to work even in rural areas with no mobile network. On average, the turnaround time of the HIV infant test results (from sample collection to result delivery to health facilities) has decreased by 50 per cent, with a greater impact in rural areas. The project is now going to be scaled up at the national level. This case study presents preliminary quantitative results from the pilot project, innovative aspects of the strategies, as well as the guiding principles for a rapid scale up identified together with the partners.
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