The life-saving tablet
Digital innovation for community health services
"When I was a kid, I saw a report on TV that showed a pregnant woman whose child was misplaced, she went to the hospital and they turned the child around. When my wife was pregnant, I was really scared because I thought I wouldn't know what to do if there was a major issue. Fortunately for us, the community health workers came to register my wife and they helped her access health services until the delivery. And now they continue to monitor my child," says Appolinaire, 26, a farmer living in Djingrakass, a village in the Western Logone province of south-western Chad.
Djingrakass village, which has more than 2,000 inhabitants, relies for heathcare on the Krim Krim health centre, which is located about 5km away. For the villagers, the distance is long, and they often lack information on essential family practices that can children and their mothers healthy.
Thanks to the Child Friendly Community initiative launched by UNICEF, children and pregnant women are now being monitored in real time. Community health workers, men and women selected in the community, have received basic training to offer an integrated package of promotional, preventive and curative health services. With an important innovation that allows them to be more efficient: a digital register integrated in a tablet that serves as a working tool.
Denis Djonyo, a 32-year-old farmer, married with five children, is one of the six community health workers in Djingrakass. The volunteer regularly gets on his bike and visits families. His digital tablet, in which he has registered more than a hundred babies, mothers and women of childbearing age, sends 'To Do' notifications so he doesn't forget anyone.
Denis counsels pregnant women and encourages them to attend antenatal clinics, helps households arrange transport to the health centre, identifies danger signs in children (including signs of severe acute malnutrition), promotes essential family practices and birth registration, and visits newborns, children or women who have been referred to the health centre.
Since 2017, a total of 118 community health workers have been deployed in the villages linked to the Krim health centre. Bonaventure Woin, the centre's manager, says attendance rates at the centre have more than tripled since the system was set up.
"Thanks to the child-friendly community initiative, mothers are less afraid of dying while giving birth, or of losing their babies, because women and children are followed up by a community health worker free of charge." says Caroline Mamadjibeye, a local resident. The child-friendly community is an experiment that has won over the provincial authorities. They would like to see this initiative extended to all rural and urban communities in order to ensure the health of the population in this province where many preventable diseases, particularly malaria, are rife.