Most people seem to have their phones in their hand every waking moment of their life and the other population of smartphone owners will be seen fishing for their phones from pockets and handbags periodically to check for calls and messages. While smartphones have been used to make life easier in many other ways, it is becoming a very important tool for monitoring the health of children thanks to the many apps mushrooming in tech hubs of Africa.
Here are some of the five health apps Kenyan parents can use to monitor the health of their children.
- Peek school eye health
Given that childhood visual impairment is a big public health concern that needs effective screening and early intervention, most parents will be glad to have an app that can do exactly that. Peek school eye health is a smartphone-based sight test and referral system (comprising Peek Acuity test, sight simulation referral cards, and short message service [SMS] reminders), versus standard care (Snellen’s Tumbling-E card and written referral). The control trial of the app was done in schools in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya.
According to the Lancet Journal, an estimated 19 million children have visual impairment (defined as Snellen visual acuity of <6/12 [or <20/40] in the better-seeing eye). A Visual impairment can have a profound effect on child development, quality of life, educational attainment, and economic productivity. The leading cause of visual impairment in children is an uncorrected refractive error, affecting approximately 12 million children, which can be easily corrected with spectacles. Most children with visual impairment live in low-income countries. In Kenya, for example, the estimated prevalence of visual impairment among school children (6–20 years) ranges from 4·8% to 5·6%.
Once a Snellen Tumbling-E card is used to screen for visual impairment, the children who have failed two predefined threshold levels: 6/60 (20/200) and 6/12 (20/40), in either eye, are referred to a hospital. A letter is then sent to the child’s parent or guardian explaining the need to access care.
- Hello doctor/Sema Doctor
Basically, Hello doctor is an app that offers free essential healthcare information. The South African-built app also offers its users access to healthcare advice and answers any question they have on health in live group chat forums. You can also have confidential one-on-one conversations over texts with a doctor and the health practitioner can call you back in one hour. The app is available in ten African countries with different language options. Hello doctor can work with different phone models as well.
In Kenya, the app comes courtesy of Safaricom and the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and M-Shwari and M-Pesa subscribers can now get medical facilities like clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and health loans through the app. You only need to pay Ksh. 30 via Mpesa on monthly basis to benefit from the service. With these payments, the subscriber will be covered for up to Ksh. 10000 for any unexpected health expenses as well as a single-night in-patient of Ksh. 5000 that is underwritten by Cannon Assurance.
- Baby Center App
If you have had your first child then you definitely know the baby center website which has been guiding parents, and especially new mums on pregnancy and the subsequent life of the baby. What most mothers do not know is that there is a baby centre up which has benefitted about 400 million expectant mothers and once the baby arrives the app automatically becomes a guide to help with the necessary tools needed in the first year as a parent on a weekly basis.
As far as health apps go, M-Tiba is turning out to be a game-changer for mothers and their children. Mrs. Beffion Khadioli never knew about it but after the nurses went on strike last year rendering all public hospitals redundant; it became apparent that she needed a plan B. After confiding her predicament to her neighbour she was told about M-Tiba, a mobile health wallet service that lets you save a small amount of money each month. Although available for the whole family and since it targets people from low-income places, it is pregnant mothers and mothers with children that have taken to it like ducks to water.
“It mostly has to do with the nature of under five-year-olds getting sick on a regular basis given the myriad of childhood diseases. There is also the fact that most insurance covers are unavailable for people who live on less than a dollar on a daily basis,” said Dr. Francis Mbugua who runs the prestige medical clinic in Uhuru Estate and it also an M-Tiba agent. The popularity of the app has much to do with the connectivity in Kenya as well as the mobile money services that make it easier for them to save in the wallet.
- IMCI App
The Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) application App is the brainchild of the Ministry of Health in Kenya. It is designed to help health workers access information that will lead to early diagnosis of childhood illnesses. It is a free app and is available to all health workers in Kenya.