How to use smartphones to tackle malaria

Halima Geraldo Ndala is a community health worker in Mozambique. She works in the rural part of Massinga, Inharrime District, in Mozambique’s southern province of Inhambane. Her father fought in the Mozambican War of Independence but today Halima ‘fights’ for the health of her community.

Halima had already been volunteering as a local first-aider for six years when, in 2010, she was selected by her community to become community health worker. In Mozambique, community-based health workers receive four months training so that they can assess and treat common childhood illnesses and conduct health promotion activities.

Halima regularly gives talks on disease prevention in her mosque, however she is always keen to share her health messages more widely and tries to use every opportunity. On this occasion, it is a group of cattle herders who are gathered at the local dip to treat their cows. All of them are curious to know more about Halima’s ‘new’ tool for her APE activities, a smartphone.

The smartphone is part of Malaria Consortium’s inSCALE research project, which is looking at innovative ways to improve community health worker motivation and performance in order to increase the appropriate treatment of sick children for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Since 2013, all 132 community health workers in six districts of Inhambane Province have been using smart phones with an application called inSCALE CommCare. The app features a multimedia job aid with images and audio to guide community health workers through patient consultation steps, a closed user group for free communication between peers and supervisors, and a data submission tool for the community health workers to submit their patient records over the 3G network.

Halima feels more confident caring for patients with this new app. “My work has greatly improved since I started using the phone,” she said. “I can communicate anytime with my supervisor to ask questions and I have clear information on how to treat patients.” Halima’s supervisor, nurse Florencio, is based at Chongola Health Centre, a 20 kilometre bicycle ride from Halima’s home, so being able to contact Florencio by phone makes life much easier for her.

Halima wishes she hadn’t been taken out of school by her parents at Grade 5, as she would have liked have an even greater role within the health system, as it’s an area she is really passionate about. However, she has four grown children, one of whom Omar attends the Health Training Centre of Massinga. She is very proud of him.

To see Halima in action and learn more about the inSCALE project and the work of the community health workers in Mozambique, please watch our film below:–enhancing-community-health

The inSCALE project, funded  by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been implemented in Mozambique and Uganda by Malaria Consortium, in partnership with the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London,  the Inhambane Provincial Health Directorate, and Ugandan  Ministry of Health.
For more information about the inSCALE project, visit our website:

This article is published in collaboration with The Bill & Melinda Gated Foundation. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Marian Blondeel is a Senior Communications Officer for the Malaria Consortium at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Image: Men are silhouetted against a video screen as they pose with smartphones. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic.

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