In August 2020, the SanCoTic project was presented to the staff members of the Fada and Bogandé health districts of eastern Burkina Faso. The aim was to involve them from the onset in the project and to gather their input on the design of the Digital Capacity Building Device for Community-based Health Workers.
In Burkina Faso, despite the recent policy of free health care for children under 5 and pregnant women, infant and child mortality remains very high (81.7%). Access to health care remains difficult for a large part of the population, owing to the lasting shortage of health workers, the distance from health facilities and poor travel conditions due to the security situation in some areas.
In 2016, Burkina Faso's Ministry of Health recruited nearly 17,000 Community-based health workers based on a new profile. They are expected to deliver health promotion, prevention and curative services; however, the training, retraining and supervision of these community workers remain inadequate. The distance of more than 5 km to the Health and Social Promotion Centre to which they are attached limits the knowledge support, guidance, monitoring and transfer that such centre’s health staff can provide.
To address these different issues, Gret, through the SanCoTic project, which is supported by Enabel’s Wehubit programme, is working to deploy a mechanism for continuous capacity building of Community-based health workers through a digital learning system providing them more autonomy and effectiveness in delivering services to the population.
‘We are counting on the SanCoTic project to develop the capacity and technical competence of community actors and to address the major health challenges facing the Eastern Region.‘
‘This project comes at the right time given the security situation and the Covid-19 pandemic. This will bring health workers closer to their target population. This will strengthen the capacity of Community-based health workers who need a number of updates. There may be some apprehension regarding the approach and use of mobile phones but the majority of health workers are already equipped with devices.’
More specifically, deploying within the Ministry of Health a digital device that facilitates the training and remote support of Community-based health workers. It consists of:
A module for the delivery of text and audio format knowledge reminders through the Community-based health workers’ mobile phones
A digital self-training module with multimedia content that is accessible offline but embedded in their mobile phones.
The knowledge reminder campaigns allow for various priority topics chosen by the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, to remind Community-based health workers of knowledge that they should master, of Ministry of Health guidelines concerning their activities (educational talks, home visits, data collection and reporting, management of drugs and inputs and pathologies), referring them to the digital self-training modules on their phones for more technical learning, including their role and medical procedures to be followed. These modules will illustrate in detail the knowledge, introduced through the campaigns, by means of video, photos, audio and additional texts.
Such enhanced and ongoing support and training will enable remote Community-based health workers to empower themselves, take responsibility and perform better at the community level, thereby improving access to quality care in their communities.
At part of a process to develop partnerships around the project, Gret began consultation with the central directorates of the Ministry of Health at the beginning of the project in January 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the presentation of the project to field stakeholders was delayed. On 21 August 2020, the project was finally presented to health stakeholders in the Eastern Region where it will be implemented in two health districts, Fada and Bogandé.