A study on the utilization of digital tools to enhance COVID-19 and TB Testing and linkages to care among Boda Boda riders in the Nairobi Metropolis was launched, April 21, 2022.
The study, covering Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties, used digital solutions in conjunction with antigen detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) to support decentralized COVID-19 and TB testing and linkage to care of Boda Boda riders in the Nairobi Metropolis.
Running for a period of four months starting October 2021, the study was conducted by JKUAT through the Digital Health Applied Research Centre (DHARC), funded by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and supported by the Ministry of Health and Nairobi Metropolis County governments.
Lauding the researchers’ efforts, the Ag. Director General for Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, acknowledged that the study had shown great success and provided opportunities with regards to community-based health initiatives which are critical in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“Community-based health services are essential in increasing people’s access to the care they need, and protecting them from being impoverished as a result of health care,” said Dr. Amoth.
The Director General appreciated the digital component of the study saying data is vital in decision making and informing policy.
Data is the new currency. How do we access the progress in the health sector without data? This data however must be accurate, available and accountable by the people,” opined Dr. Amoth.
Dr. Amoth lauded the bidirectional screening component of the study and thanked the team for going beyond the scope of the study to test for blood pressure and blood sugar.
In a presentation made by Dr. Jane Aduda, a member of DHARC, summarizing the findings of the study, it was revealed that 42% of the riders had elevated blood pressure while 48% had abnormal blood sugar.
Dr. Amoth further said the study is important to the Ministry of Health and the disseminated findings will be critical in informing community-based health policy in the country.
The Principal Investigator of the study, Prof. Simon Karanja, attributed the success of the study to the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya (BAK) and thanked them for their cooperation throughout the study.
“We engaged with the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya throughout the design and implementation of the study, which played an indispensable role in mobilization,” said Prof. Karanja.
While advocating for community-based health services, Prof. Karanja said there is a strong interest in, and uptake of, diagnostic services at community level.
“Through the study, we established that diagnostic services at community level enables more patient-centered care and strengthens surveillance efforts,” said Prof. Karanja.
On his part, FIND Kenya, Executive Director, Prof. Joseph Mathu Ndung’u appreciated the researchers for taking up the mantle of enhancing the utilization of digital tools to enhance COVID-19 and TB testing.
“The study has clearly shown us that working with existing digital tools will definitely improve provision of health services in our communities and provide deeper insights into the population and disease patterns,” said Prof Ndung’u who is also the Chancellor of JKUAT.
BAK leadership thanked DHARC for the initiative that enhanced the health care awareness of its members and urged the researchers to scale up the project to reach the rest of its members.
The study enrolled 5663 individuals with 52% reporting respiratory symptoms (cough, congestion, difficulty breathing, chest pain or sore throat); while 30% reported only cough highlighting the need to integrate linkage to care for other respiratory conditions, into Covid-19 testing models.
Also speaking during the meeting was JKUAT Registrar, Academic Affairs, Dr. Esther Muoria, Ministry of Health, TB programme Head, Dr. Carol Asin, Dr. Denver Mariga of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Dan Rono of Center for Health Solution, Mr. Collins Etemesi of NASCOP, Mr. James Gathogo of Health Poverty Action among others.
Prof. Karanja led a formidable team of multidisciplinary researchers including Dr. Jane Aduda, Dr. Reuben Thuo, Prof. Fred Wamunyokoli, Prof. Gideon Kikuvi, Mr. Henry Kissinger, Dr. Joseph Matheri, Dr. Susan Mambo, Ms. Esther Gichaiya, Dr. Joseph Machua, Dr. Justus Simba, Dr. Patrick Mburugu, Dr David Kamau, Dr Susan Mweluand Mr. Philip Oyier.