By: Christophe Hitayezu
The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced a new partnership with the non-profit organization Living Goods to leverage the transformative power of digital health technology to strengthen the country’s community health program. The partnership was marked by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on this Tuesday, 11 February 2015 in Kigali by Hon Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Primary Health Care and Liz Jarman, the CEO of Living Goods.
Founded in 2007 by an American Social entrepreneur, Chuck Slaughter, Living Goods is a nonprofit that saves lives at scale by supporting digitally empowered community health workers who deliver care on call – making it easy for families in need to get the care they need. Beginning its operations in Uganda in 2007 and expanding into Kenya in 2015, Living Goods works with governments and partners to ensure community health workers have access to the digital technology, medical treatments, supervision and compensation to cost-effectively deliver high quality, impactful health services.
In the interview with the Business of Giving in March 2018, New York City, Chuck told Denver Frederick, the host of the show, that Living Goods put the power in the hands of the consumers. “It’s really become more like the Uber of healthcare, putting the power really in the hands of the consumers and enabling them to call for the healthcare they need any time of day,” he said.
In Rwanda, Community health has been an integral part of health system since the program’s establishment in 1995, with 58,445 community health workers (CHWs) currently providing prevention, diagnostic, treatment and referral services in their communities. Through this partnership the program will strengthen quality of service delivery, and leverage timely and high-quality data to improve CHW performance and service delivery. The MoH believes that an effective, robust digital health platform will play a catalytic role in improving the quality and quantity of services Rwandan citizens receive through CHWs.
“We have 58,445 community health workers in Rwanda. They are the backbone of our health system. It is thanks to them that applied an 80% reduction of maternal mortality from 2005 to 2015. But now, we feel it is time when we need to improve the program. They have got close to 13 registers to fill on daily basis and we have realized that it is not sustainable and it is too much work for volunteers. That is why we decided to go digital.” Said Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, The Minister of State in Charge of Public Health and Primary Healthcare.
Through this agreement, Living Goods will support the country and its partners to identify, design, demonstrate, and sustainably scale a digital health solution for community health workers that will improve the quality and performance of community health service delivery in Rwanda.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Health on the vision of going digital with the community health program in Rwanda. We always look at Rwanda as a benchmark for investing in community health program and our mission is about digitally enabling community health workers being more effective. And we believe it’s not just about the technology but how that technology is used and how that real-time data is used to optimize outcome, performance and accountability,” said Liz Jarman, CEO Living Goods.
Specifically, Living Goods will engage the MoH and key stakeholders to conduct a situational analysis of the community health and digital health landscape and gather detailed user requirements. These will be used to develop a framework to support the Ministry in selecting the most context-appropriate digital health solution for Rwanda’s community health program. Living Goods will then support the MoH to develop a costed roadmap for the digitization of community health in Rwanda over the coming years, including testing the chosen solution in 2 exemplar districts and working with government and partners to scale the solution nationwide.