Adapting solutions

Action Meningitis – Prioritising children

Blantyre, Malawi |


Pioneering the use of mobile phones in Primary Clinics to provide a rapid triage system for children.

In the absence of systematic primary medical triage in Malawi, hospital personnel aren’t equipped with the skills and tools for early and accurate recognition of acute, serious illness. Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis and the sickest children don’t always receive urgent care. Severe illnesses are regularly missed as hundreds of children queue for hours. Many do not survive the wait.

The non-profit organization Meningitis Research Foundation has developed a strong partnership with the Ministry of Health in Malawi to train over 200 health workers in medical triage for children. Guided by a unique mobile phone point-of-care tool, health workers detect first signs of severe illness. This mHealth triage system is now put into effect in the five busy urban clinics of Blantyre and 3 rural centres in the Chikhwawa district. The system radically improves patient flows in clinics. Lower-cadre health workers, whose previous standard training did not enable them to identify severe illness in children, are now routinely carrying out triage for all children under 14.

So far, over 215,000 children have been triaged over 2 years across the 8 clinics. The mobile phones also captures unique data to help improve the health outcomes for people in Malawi. Over the next 3 years, we plan to expand and improve the system by training 440 health workers to reach 384,000 children.

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