|Annet's first time using a computer|
Everyday, she would thank me. “This program has so much potential to improve our records so much,” she gushed. “Thank you for helping me to use it.” Her gratitude was echoed by thirteen VHTs with whom I met last week in a discussion about VHT-related transportation and record keeping issues. My aim with the focus group was to determine the feasibility of incorporating a program such as Medic Mobile into the local health system. Here were some of their thoughts:
The discussion began with a report written by the VHTs and read by their coordinator. Mid-way through the report, he mentioned transportation, explaining that, “When we need to report news to the center, we have problems with transport. Sometimes a bicycle is available, but it's still not a very short time to ride. Often we are forced to walk to the hospital to report. We come for many miles and on foot! Some live here, but most of us live far away.”
According to the VHTs, it takes them approximately 2 hours to walk each way, 50 minutes if they are on a bicycle, and 25 if they take a boda-boda. A boda-boda ride, however, costs round-trip upwards of 20,000 UGX, or $8. A quality restaurant meal can run you 2,000 UGX (less than a dollar).
Reasons cited for visiting the center included "following up on a patient" and obtaining "advice from [a] doctor".
When asked about the possibility of sending reports to the health center via SMS, the VHTs universally responded with nods. "Yes, this is so good!" one exclaimed.
I could tell they were excited about the prospects. What is even more exciting is the fact that out of the thirteen, nine of the VHTs already owned cell phones which would be compatible with the Medic Mobile program. That is, almost 70% of the group questioned do not even need to be given a new cell phone.