Do you have a health related question that you have ever wanted to ask a medical doctor?
Well if your answer is yes then you probably do not need to meet a doctor face-to-face because your query could have already been answered online.
A group of medical professionals have launched a mobile app that answers most of the health concerns affecting masses.
The app can be accessed via any mobile phone connected to the internet or even through a personal computer.
If you are a health worker and your client has a question that you cannot answer, then probably you need to consult iafya.org app before you even think of dialling a doctor for advice.
The iafya app contains information about symptoms, prevention and treatment of many common diseases that affect the masses. Medical procedures and conditions are also explained in a simple language for the benefit of even those those who cannot comprehend medical jargon.
Whether you are looking for symptoms of common diseases, learn about minor and major conditions surrounding pregnancy, information about carrying out first aid procedures or want to learn how to manage a pregnancy, the iafya app comes in handy.
Better still it is free for all provided one is connected to the internet.
According to Allan Mackenzie, Managing Director of Avallain Africa, the organisation running iafya, health information is widely available on the Internet but authenticity of such information is what makes many Internet users hesitant to rely on it.
He says the professionals behind the initiative aim to empower health workers and the general population with accurate health information.
Encouraging is the fact that the professionals behind the project are of medical background meaning the information shared would be authentic and dependable.
With 3 years of clinical practice, and 5 years of experience in health systems in developing countries, Dr. Mackenzie holds degrees in Health Economics and medicine from the University of Cape Town and the University of Nairobi as well as a Diploma in IT from Strathmore University.
His partners include Lilian Obwolo Akello (Uganda) who has has a Master's Degree in Public Health (2008) and currently trains health workers in Kampala, Uganda.
Conrad Frederick Kwesi Buckle (Ghana): qualified is a consultant in Emergency Medicine at Barnet Hospital, London and is Vice‐President of the African Federation of Emergency Medicine (AFEM); Vice‐President of the Ghanaian Doctors and Dentists Association (UK). Another partner, Carla Maisel (South Africa currently works in Cape Town. Other experts include Dr Ngure Nyagah and Shelmith Mumbi.
Dr Mackenzie says people can manage and avoid suffering that comes with most diseases if they had access to the right information about prevention and mamagement of the ailments
Through a mobile application, iafya, the doctors hope everyone with a mobile phone connected to the internet would access information that promotes well being.
The app comes bundled with education content such as illustrated health messages and videos – designed to make public uptake of health information fun and cater to a less literate audience.
Kiswahili versions of the video content further expands the reach and usefulness meaning even health workers and masses less eloquent in English can find the resource helpful.
“Many people have different needs on health and there are few medical professionals to serve the masses.
We have consolidated key health information and contextualized it for Kenya. This will promote health literacy for the general public,” explains Dr Mackenzie.
People can check basic medical conditions and get contacts of various professionals for one-on-one consultancy services.
The app accessible via computers or any hand held gadget by typing www.iafya.org on the browser.
“This system, iafya health information, is available to all mobile and internet users and will become a main source of health related information, communication and services,” explains Dr. Mackenzie.
Dr Mackenzie says the team’s objective is to create solutions that develop the Internet as a tool for inclusion rather than an accelerating agent of the digital divide.
“Avallain Africa specialises in the transformation of healthcare through ICT-based education and information solutions… we create software solutions which can be individually tailored to your needs,” said Dr Mackenzie.
The app comes in packages depending on the need for targeted users. ProiAfya for instance is a learning platform for healthcare professionals, which follows a case-based approach – giving healthcare professionals the chance to learn from the very cases they face on a day-to-day basis within the Kenyan context.
“The platform also offers online self certification, a feature based on the Mozilla badges concept. This offers a more objective way of assessing the impact of continuing medical education for health workers and can be integrated to the relicensing process by the various professional medical councils.”
On the other hand StuiAfya is a special web-based application targeted at students. The appt incorporates a content management system (CMS) that allows one to add and display a wide range of content.
“The underlying databases in our CMS stores and organizes medical information for learners to access easily, as well as add additional information.
This innovation was informed by the realization that medical education, particularly in the advanced stages of training, presents us with unique challenges such as the spatial and temporal distribution of undergraduates, residents, registrars (instructors) and their lecturers.
The unpredictability of the schedules of these actors in the different disciplines of medicine has led to poor attendance or cancellation of lectures.
“StuiAfya is for the delivery of factual knowledge and aims to expose healthcare professionals-in-training to tools and thinking processes required to make critical decisions about the patient cases they meet everyday,” says Dr Mackenzie.
StuiAfya also has built-in blogs and wiki resources; and supports a multimedia learning platform that brings out numerous possibilities that the (present) traditional knowledge transfer system does not. It presents reliable, reusable content in a format that is convenient to the medical professional-in-training.