USAID’s Mahefa Miaraka Program Drives Mobile Technology for Community Health

November 4th, 2020 | News

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An innovative initiative to strengthen community actors in the response to COVID-19 and to support the continuity of essential local services

Antananarivo – On November 04, 2020, the Mahefa Miaraka program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, held a meeting at the Hotel Ibis Ankorondrano to present “interactive voice response” (IVR), one of the mobile solutions adapted to strengthen the knowledge of community actors on COVID-19 and the continuity of essential services.

The USAID Community Capacity for Health (CCHP) project, locally referred to as Mahefa Miaraka, is an integrated community health program funded by USAID for five years (2016 – 2021) and implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) in seven regions of Madagascar (Analanjirofo, Boeny, Diana, Menabe, Melaky, Sofia and SAVA).

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all basic social services in Madagascar, including health service providers. Thanks to their commitment and their daily presence in the field, community workers find themselves on the front lines against COVID-19. They must therefore be able to educate the public and identify symptoms, refer suspected cases to specialized care units, and communicate the data to the Ministry of Public Health in a timely manner. Their routine activities are strongly disrupted by the priority given to the response to COVID-19 and by the physical and social distancing measures in force.

Chief of Party Dr. Yvette Ribaira launching a mobile solution to keep communities informed about COVID-19 developments.

Chief of Party Dr. Yvette Ribaira launching a mobile solution to keep communities informed about COVID-19 developments.

USAID provides support to the Ministry of Public Health to pilot the use of mobile technology to support and accompany community actors in the fight against COVID-19 and ensure the continuation of essential basic health services. This new mobile initiative is implemented by JSI under the USAID Community Capacity for Health or Mahefa Miaraka program in collaboration with social enterprise Viamo.

The initiative aims to strengthen the skills of community health volunteers (CHVs), heads of fokontany, and heads of Basic Health Centers via mobile communication. Training modules on COVID-19 and essential basic health services will be available, free of charge, in audio and SMS form, in official Malagasy, as well as in the tsimihety, sakalava, and betsimisaraka dialects. This technological innovation offers the advantages of being safer to use, easier to organize and less expensive compared to face-to-face training. Ultimately, 5,000 CHVs will be able to benefit from October to December 2020 from two series of audio and SMS trainings, 15 modules of 5 minutes each, in one to two lessons per week. This breaks down to 2,500 CHVs, 1,750 heads of fokontany and 750 CSB chiefs in Analanjirofo, Boeny, DIANA, Melaky, Menabe, SAVA and Sofia regions.

Madagascar has introduced mobile technology to strengthen the knowledge of community actors on COVID-19 and the continuity of essential services.

Madagascar has introduced mobile technology to strengthen the knowledge of community actors on COVID-19 and the continuity of essential services.

These mobile solutions meet the priorities of the Ministry of Public Health while contributing to the continuous strengthening of the knowledge and skills of community actors to sustainably maintain the availability and offer of essential services in maternal and child health in hard-to-reach areas. Mahefa Miaraka and Viamo have pooled their expertise to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 and make the 2020-2024 vision of the health sector a reality: “A Malagasy population in perfect health contributing to the building of a modern and prosperous nation.”

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