Sierra Leone wins big with innovative health technology

Jonathan Bundu, World Vision Sierra Leone

World Vision Sierra Leone has won an eHealth award from the African Development Bank for their innovative approach to delivering health services with mobile technology. Out of more than 100 submissions, World Vision Sierra Leone’s work stood above the rest for supporting and strengthening maternal, neonatal and child health services.

The eHealth awards encourage the production and sharing of knowledge in technology solutions to improve governance and service delivery, particularly in health. Harnessing Africa’s technological revolution will not only improve health for children and families, but also accelerate inclusive growth and job creation.

The benefits of technology in the health sector are numerous, including increasing transparency and accountability in service delivery, reducing errors, improving diagnostic accurarcy, facilitating empowerment, enabling better self-care, addressing skills shortages and increasing cost efficiency.

For example, a community health worker can capture health information about a pregnant woman during and after pregnancy and send it to a cloud server that can be accessed by other relevant staff. The health worker can also refer the pregnant woman, if she has complications, to the nearest health facility.

"Now they visit me and check if I’m OK and tell me what to eat and what not to eat. Sometimes they even inform me when is my next clinic date. At first, we had to walk miles [to a health clinic], and when you arrived at a place, it was so full or there were no nurses,” said Finda Moriba, now pregnant with her third child.

Many community health workers are excited about using the mobile phones because they are able to more effectively monitor the progress of more children and women. So far, 102 of 440 community health workers in Sierra Leone have been trained in the use of mobile phones for delivering timed and targeted counselling, which is a core health intervention for the 7-11 health and nutrition strategy.