Health information is the backbone of any society. When you have bad health, it doesn’t matter what else you have because you might as well have little or nothing. Health is a vital component to increase in its members’ productivity for economical, political or social gain for any country or community.
iAfya is a health information application available to all mobile and fixed internet users which targets to become Africa’s main source of verified quality health information and related services.
Both the web-app and mobile versions offer a suite of reliable information that users will find simple to read, understand and implement. The platforms offers health information to consumers who want to look up medical conditions that relate to a certain disease, browse medical procedures, check treatment options or need basic first aid. The iAfya app offers answers to their everyday health questions. In its first version released mid 2012, iAfya featured public health education content such as illustrated health messages that were specifically designed to make public uptake of health information fun and cater to a less literate audience.
iAfya Version 2 – Using feedback from iAfya consumers and Community health workers, Avallain Africa, the company behind iAfya, recently unveiled iAfya version 2. The product now featured more info useful in bridging the health-literacy gap and divide in the society. iAfya has come handy to Community health workers too. They have used it as a reference tool when educating villagers about health. iAfya’s first pilot projects have been in the Eastern and Nairobi provincial regions of Kenya; that’s in Tala and Kawangware respectively.
Features that are dominant in iAfya Version 2 include – Swahili modules through the web-app on www.iafya.org. The application wants to reach as many Kenyans as possible in a language acceptable and convenient to them. iAfya v2 also allows a platform for users to create a community or network of health consumers through its new ‘Forums’ feature. Under Forums, any individual can share his or her experiences and ideas concerning various health and wellness conditions. Avallain desires that the ‘forums’ will provide an opportunity for both health professionals and the general public to come together and create awareness concerning various health issues.
‘Themes’, also a new feature, sets the stage that creates awareness on key health issues and concerns that are either making news in the country or are a major public health burden. A typical theme runs for a certain duration and also provides facts and latest information concerning the health issue. Currently featured is the breast cancer theme which is iAfya’s focus for the month of October in line with the international Breast Cancer Awareness month worldwide. Bearing in mind the Millenium Development Goals 4 and 5 which focus on child and maternal health respectively, iAfya Version 2.0 also carries ‘Mother and Child ‘content.
“Taking care of the health of the mother and child means taking care of the whole society. Behind every healthy child is a healthy mother,” says Shelmith Mumbi, head of content at Avallain. This is following a recent report by the University of Washington based Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation that found over half of the reduction in the global mortality of children younger than 5 years is linked to increased education among females of reproductive age.
“This feature seeks to educate the society on the common health issues that affect children and women, creates the necessary link between maternal health and child survival,” added Mumbi.
According to the World Health Organisation, every 90 seconds, at least one woman across the world dies from childbirth related complication. It is against this background that Avallain offers women the information and support they need to control and manage their reproductive health, during their pregnancies and while caring for their newborns well into their childhood.
The future of iAfya’s – Dr. John Muthee, Head of Business Development at Avallain Africa notes that their strategy is To disrupt health care using technology that increases access, quality and outcome while reducing variability and cost of healthcare. Future versions of iAfya should see users create tools to create personal health goals and plans. It should also have a deep connection to social media where iAfya users will act as social media community health workers and enlighten their friends and families on basic health care education. On another level, integrating iAfya’s resources with the Human Resources for Health (HRH) programmes currently being undertaken by various government, non-governmental organizations as well as businesses will expand access to the platform.
The iAfya app is available for download from www.iafya.org. The BlackBerry version of the App is available on the Blackberry AppWorld. It is also available on the Facebook App Market. The Android Version should be available before end of 2012.