Taking action to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria in Nigeria, using mobile electronic health tools
Eguonor Oghene Owhin, among the many project proposals that the Institut Cerba received in response to its call for internal projects, yours was chosen for support. Can you tell us about it?
The CareTrust Medics initiative is an association created in 2017 and which operates in the Abuja region of Nigeria. Our objective is to improve people’s access to health services related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. This disease affects around 40% of the region's population, and most especially the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized populations.
We are seeking to improve access by taking advantage of various mobile electronic health tools, such as smartphone applications for data entry, automatic texting to send reminders to patients and mobile telemedicine units. We have developed partnerships with clinical pathology laboratories to diagnose malaria, with pharmacies to dispense the drugs, with community health extension workers for monitoring vital signs and with medical doctors for consultations. Each patient has a unique personal code that gives them free access to these medical services, and which facilitates medical monitoring on our platform.
What led you to found this association?
It all started in 2016 when I visited a camp for people who had been internally displaced by the Boko Haram insurgence in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria, at the suburban fringe of Abuja. The living conditions there were miserable, with the residents lacking food and medical care and living in shelters that leaked when it rained.
As a medical laboratory technician, I thought I could probably do something. So, I sought funding and support from several health professionals in my personal network. This led to the establishment of a sustainable clinic (i.e., a clinic that, once it has been set up, can be run by the community itself) focusing on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria, parasitic diseases and other infections.
The following year, I created the CareTrust Medics initiative, which was registered as an NGO in 2020.