In Uganda, thousands of deaths and illnesses could be prevented every year with better access to primary health services. Many remote areas have limited access to life-saving resources, including medical professionals and proper medications. And without strong infrastructure and transportation options, accessing treatment or getting regular check-ups at a health clinic can both be costly and time consuming.
To remedy this, the nonprofit social enterprise Living Goods, is helping people access primary services at their doorsteps. Their mission is to empower people to improve health knowledge and outcomes within their communities by creating networks of primarily female community health workers who go door-to-door offering everything from malaria medication to water filters.
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Eva Kantalama is one of these community health workers. She’s able to support herself and her family by helping her community. With basic health care training from Living Goods, Kantalama travels to remote areas bringing medications and medical advice to those who might not otherwise have access to them.
Her efforts are supported by a mobile tool that Living Goods co-developed with Medic Mobile and the help of California-based technology company, Cisco. The effort is part of Cisco’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and global problem solving.
The technology has made the work of the community health workers Living Goods supports, like Kantalama, even more effective. Since launching in 2015, the tool has helped almost 7 million people receive health and hygiene information and products, and has empowered 8,702 community health workers to improve their financial security.
The innovative mobile system leverages basic smartphone technology to connect community health workers with their clients more easily, while gathering real-time data that enables better supervision and performance management of their work. Through the tool, community health workers are able to apply standard and objective assessments to diagnose illnesses, provide uniform treatment protocols, and follow up with their clients to track treatment and health outcomes.
“I really think the mobile system strengthens the relationship I have with the community,” Sarah Balisanyka another community health worker says. “It adds to the friendship, people get a happy surprise when they receive a [text message] from Living Goods, which supports my in-person interactions...it [also] helps improve impact when we treat malaria or provide antenatal care for pregnant women.”
Through the system, expecting mothers can receive text message reminders as well as tips about pregnancy and infant care, helping create a healthier, more robust process from pregnancy to delivery and onward. The Living Goods approach has clearly helped saved lives. A 2014 study found that these interventions reduced under-five child mortality by 27% in 10 Ugandan communities where they operated at a cost of just $2 per person per year.
Together with Cisco, Living Goods is not only helping people live longer and healthier lives in countries like Uganda, it’s also empowering entrepreneurs, enabling them to strengthen their financial independence.