Projects: Collaborate.Health

Using Mobile Technology to Reduce Inequities for Children with Disabilities in Kenya

A mobile application to collect information and provide information resources in the time of Covid-19

Agency Partner
Kupenda for the Children
Course
Using Mobile Technologies to Improve Health Outcomes
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Overview

Kupenda for the Children is a 501c(3) non-profit organization based in the United States, which works alongside its affiliate Kenyan organization, Kuhenza for the Children, to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Their mission is to transform harmful beliefs related to disability and improve access to medical care, education, and community inclusion by working with individuals impacted by disabilities and their families and communities.

Context

Kenya is a mobile Health (mHealth) hot spot with a robust digital infrastructure governed by Kenya’s eHealth strategy, which makes it a great deployment location for digital technologies like our disability advocate outreach and data collection application. Despite high mobile penetration rates and mHealth interventions in Kenya, there is limited literature on disability and the value of mHealth interventions.

Challenge

Children with disabilities are often denied education, socialization, adequate nutrition, and necessary medical care. In Kenya, having a child with a disability is often perceived negatively (i.e., as a curse from God). As a result, families and community leaders often seek counsel and healing from their faith leaders and traditional healers, despite these leaders’ frequent use of dangerous practices like skin cutting, exorcisms, live burials and replacing medicine with prayer and fasting. As a result, many disabled children are in social isolation and face mistreatment by their peers, the greater community, and their family members.  

Solution

Our BUSPH team has partnered with Kupenda and Kuhenza to develop a mHealth tool for community leaders to monitor and assess children with disabilities in their communities. Our application will document weekly outreach activities, register and monitor children with education and medical referrals, utilize a COVID-19 assessment and home-based care guide to identify at-risk children, and include supplemental resources for leaders to use during community outreach and family counseling activities.

Results

Our mHealth application is in the final stages of testing, and will soon be rolled out for use among hundreds of community leaders in the Kilifi County of Kenya. Once community leaders are trained and familiarized with the tool, the application will be uploaded to Kupenda’s free, online library and distributed to activists, organizations, and governments throughout Africa and Latin America.

Project Timeline

This project took six months to complete from kick-off meeting to presentation of final deliverables. Click the button below for a detailed timeline.

View Project Timeline

Why Mobile Technology for Kupenda

A Quick Primer in Using the App to Find Information Resources

In 2020, Kupenda launched its Child Case Management Mobile Application in partnership with Dimagi, Boston University, MIT and Sabrams Consulting LLC. The app enabled Kupenda to screen more than 510 families for Covid-19 in the first 6 months of the pandemic. Through prioritization and follow-up counseling features, the app also enabled Kupenda’s field staff in Kenya to provide emergency nutrition, abuse, medical care and medications to 338 families in crisis.

Listen to this presentation from Kupenda’s Development Director, Jessica Charles, to learn about this project and how it’s improving the lives of families impacted by disability and will continue to support thousands of families in need beyond the pandemic.