Health January 4, 2019
New technology bolsters successful imunisation programmes for children in Kenya

By David Duffy - World Healthcare Journal

Vaccination programmes save the lives of over 2.5m children globally every year. But despite the obvious benefits of effective immunisation programs, 19m children across the globe are not fully vaccinated and three million infant deaths are caused by unnecessary outbreaks.

Chanjoplus is a Kenyan-based digital platform seeking to eliminate this problem. Through the creation of an extensive digital database and accessible interface, it aims to ensure that no child need miss a vaccination appointment again. In Kenya alone there are 400,000 infants (0-18 months) who have not benefited from full immunisation programmes.

In 2015 Collince Osewe was working as a community health worker in Nairobi, encouraging families to participate in immunisation programmes by going door to door and using paper booklets to track his progress. Needless to say, this method has not proven to be efficient in order to meet their quotas of 200 families per person. Some health workers have been reported to actually make up names of children to list in their booklets.

 

Collince recognised the problem and that the vast majority of instances of children missing immunisation appointments are entirely preventable; he decided to do something about it and founded Chanjoplus in 2015.

Chanjoplus uses USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) to power an automated vaccine record system. Parents simply need a mobile phone to access the system and are required to list basic information about each child in order to register them. The system uses the information to build a digital identifier for each child and tracks their progress through immunisation programmes, sending automatic SMS reminders to parents ahead of each appointment.

Updates are provided instantly for clinicians to access, providing a real-time view of vaccine coverage throughout the country, all of which can be accessed via a centralised portal made available to participating NGOs and clinics.

Currently, Chanjoplus is being piloted in the Kibra district of Nairobi, which contains three clinics that account for 10,000 registered new-borns. While excited by the progress made thus far, Collince is determined to maintain momentum. His next goal will be to cover 33 more clinics across Nairobi to encompass each of its 150,000 babies born every year. Beyond this Collince fully believes that Chanjoplus has the potential to expand into the entire sub-Saharan continent.

Speaking to World Healthcare Journal, Collince says: “Together with our partners we can transform basic primary healthcare in Africa beginning with immunisation which is one of public health’s most valuable and cost-effective interventions that delivers positive health, social, and economic benefits and is critical in accelerating global health progress.

“There are so many health problems we can’t do anything about but there’s no reason we should still be losing children to illnesses just because they don’t have access to lifesaving vaccines. ”


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