Launching a New Service in Tanzania: Information and Self-Screening for Tuberculosis on Your Mobile Phone
With funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Pathfinder International in Tanzania, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the World Health Organization, the National TB and Leprosy Program, the Dar es Salaam Regional Health Management Team, the Kinondoni District Council Health Management Team, and Push Mobile launched a new service for community members to access tuberculosis (TB) information and self-screening via mobile phones.
This new service is part of Pathfinder Tanzania’s Engage TB project funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. The Engage TB SMS service allows members of the Kinondoni community to interact with an SMS protocol based on five key questions recommended by the World Health Organization for initial screening of TB.
How it works
If a client reports signs of TB, the system refers them for testing to the nearest health facility. Health facility staff, after conducting further laboratory investigation, can update clients’ TB status, triggering TB-positive clients to receive daily SMS treatment adherence reminders.
“This innovative self-screening tool is a first of its kind in Tanzania,” said Dr. Paspiens Mapunda, Deputy Representative of Pathfinder Tanzania. “Pathfinder is excited to work with the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to launch this exciting service that will promote screening for tuberculosis and will link people with services to get tested and treated."
It is envisioned this service will improve the quality and efficiency of TB case detection, referral, and enrollment for treatment and client adherence to TB medications. The project expects to reach 15,000 community members with the service.
During the launch, a panel of representatives from the government and WHO spoke about the TB situation in Tanzania and the inputs Pathfinder has undertaken to increase awareness and treatment of TB through training of community health workers (CHWs) and health facility staff. The event was attended by 200 government stakeholders and CHWs engaged in the project.
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