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Zanzibar’s digital community health program reaches full national scale – Transforming how 1.6 million people access essential health services – United Republic of Tanzania

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This milestone is one of the first examples of such a government program reaching national scale anywhere in the world.

October 15, 2021

Zanzibar, Tanzania — Zanzibar’s revolutionary government, with the support of global digital health organization D-tree International, has succeeded in expanding its digital community health program, Jamii ni Afya, nationwide. It is one of the first examples of such a government program to do so anywhere in the world. This program is changing the way 1.6 million Zanzibaris access health care by providing each household with a dedicated community health worker, equipped with a mobile device, to provide life-saving maternal and child health services and increase the access to essential health care.
Every year around the world, more than 15 million people die from preventable causes, and most of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Although the World Health Organization recognizes that digital health programs can strengthen health systems, there has been a proliferation of digital tools over the past 10 years that have failed to gain confidence and government ownership needed to transform health care nationally and have an impact.
Jamii ni Afya equips community health workers with a cell phone and an app that provides step-by-step advice for each health visit. The app helps define a client’s risk profile, provide tailored family planning for pregnant women, and provide a strong link to healthcare facilities with digital referrals. Among women and children with a life-threatening sign who are referred to a health facility, 99% successfully complete referral and 85% of women give birth in a health facility (28% more than the national average) . These are proven interventions that save lives. “Previous programs in Zanzibar have proven how digitally empowered community health workers can save lives and strengthen decision-making in government,” said Erica Layer, CEO of D-tree International. “Now, thanks to the leadership of the Zanzibar government, Jamii ni Afya is bringing health care to people’s doorsteps and leveraging technology to radically change the way care is delivered, so that everyone in Zanzibar can experience a healthier life. In addition to providing health services to all citizens of Zanzibar, including those traditionally excluded from the health system, Jamii ni Afya provides the government with real-time data that can be used to make informed decisions on how to strengthen its health system and advance its vision. for universal health coverage. “Jamii ni Afya provides us with real-time data so that we can monitor performance, understand impact and tailor interventions when needed,” said Halima Khamis, head of the health promotion unit at the ministry. of Health. “Without a digital system, other programs have to rely on after-the-fact surveys to assess progress, but because Jamii ni Afya collects a lot of data in real time, we can make informed decisions and adjustments faster. With financial support from the Botnar Foundation and other donors, D-tree International and the Ministry of Health worked side by side to expand Jamii ni Afya nationwide, to build capacity and skills in data analysis and program management, and in ensuring that everyone in Zanzibar can access essential health services. “Jamii ni Afya is ensuring that everyone has access to the high quality essential health care they deserve by transforming the way care is delivered,” said Stefan Germann, CEO of the Botnar Foundation. “The Botnar Foundation is pleased to support such a revolutionary program that demonstrates the power of digital health systems, when combined with proven community health programs, to provide 1.6 million people in Zanzibar with access to comprehensive essential health services, including for many young people. “

About the Zanzibar Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health, Welfare, Elderly, Gender and Children is responsible for overseeing and managing the public health system in Zanzibar. In 2019, the ministry revised the Zanzibar National Community Health Strategy to formally integrate community health volunteers into the health system to ensure that all Zanzibares can access quality primary health services. For more information visit: https://mohz.go.tz/

About D-tree International

D-tree International is a digital global health organization with over 15 years of experience as a trusted partner of governments using technology to strengthen health systems so that everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, have equitable access to high quality health care. . D-tree International has been working with the Zanzibar Ministry of Health since 2011 to demonstrate how digital tools can improve the quality, efficiency and performance of health services. For more information visit: https://www.d-tree.org

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