HAYAT meaning ‘life’ in Urdu, is a digital health project, which consists of a novel mobile health application distributed to frontline health workers and a supporting web-portal for management. It was developed by the Aga Khan University in response to transparency, accountability and governance challenges within government health institutions in Pakistan.

The Hayat mobile application allows frontline health workers to log details of services provided during field visits, track patients and raise awareness in the field, while the web-portal enables healthcare supervisors and government officials to access essential information in real-time and conveniently track and monitor field activities and health workers, improving transparency and accountability. It also allowed integration between the Lady Health Worker (LHW) Programme and Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), ultimately contributing to the health system strengthening in implementation areas.

The project has successfully been implemented in select regions of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral in collaboration with the Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan (AKHS- P) and government health departments.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and resulting lockdown, Hayat presented a unique opportunity for AKHS-P to efficiently liaise and coordinate with health departments in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to elicit a timely and efficient response, as well as directly reach health workers working in remote regions.

Approximately 175 health workers in Ghizer and 161 in Chitral are responding to the Covid-19 outbreak through Hayat. In addition to the routine Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) and immunisation services provided by the frontline health workers, they are involved in disseminating awareness content regarding essential preventive measures to be taken to reduce harm, risk and spread of Covid-19 within their communities.

Covid-19 related messages and directives from the government are also disseminated among the health workers involved in delivering MNCH services in these trying times to ensure their health and safety. “Hayat platform provides a well needed communication tool during this crisis to enhance frontline health worker’s capacity to respond to this pandemic”, says Saleem Sayani, the project’s Principal Investigator.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt routine health services such as immunisation, the need for a comprehensive digitised system becomes ever more evident, especially under the looming threat of a subsequent Covid-19 wave or another pandemic.

The implementation of Hayat would enable frontline health workers to communicate and coordinate essential knowledge during this pandemic, while enhancing the transparency, accountability and governance mechanisms within the region’s immunisation and MNCH programmes.

Since it is one of the three polio-endemic countries in the world, there is a clear need to deploy such evidence-based tools that ensure optimal delivery of health services.

Dr Momina Muzammil

Karachi

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2020

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