CommCare Helps Pregnant Kenyan Women Save Money, Pre-pay For Their Delivery

  • Godfrey Ombogo
  • March 12, 2013
Health Center Grows Using CommCare

This article was originally published Daily Nation. Read it there.

With the understanding that technology makes work easier and saves time, many enterprises are embracing it. One such business is Jacaranda Health, a maternity hospital located off the Thika superhighway along the Eastern bypass to Ruiru.

Established about two years ago to provide antenatal care, its advancement in the use of technology puts to shame many established hospitals.

According to the hospital’s operations associate, Ms Christine Osia, the health centre boasts three levels of mobile technology. At the patient registration stage is the CommCare system, where patient information is keyed into a mobile phone, then uploaded into the system. The data is then transmitted to the back office — into a database.

“Most organisations use computers to record information about their clients but we chose the mobile phone because it is relatively cheaper and easier to use,” says Ms Osia.

Unique identification number

So, instead of using desktop computers which often require a large space, patients will find nurses with mobile phones at the registration desk ready to serve them. Once the patient is registered, she is given a booklet which contains her details, including a unique identification number. The number is used to get the details of the patient in case of a follow-up visit, says Ms Osia.

The database is, however, accompanied by a manual register for back-up purposes in case the system fails, as often happens with technology.

Apart from the CommCare system, Jacaranda Health Centre also runs what is known to its patients as Mamakiba. This is a scheme that enables women to prepay for their delivery through the mobile phone.

“Clients who come for antenatal visits can use their unique identity numbers to deposit money in the Mamakiba account through M-Pesa or Airtel money,” said Ms Osia. She added that the technology helps pregnant women to save for their delivery to reduce the burden of paying a huge sum of money when the baby arrives.

“Delivery costs Sh7,900 in this hospital. That means that a client can save Sh27 per day through Mamakiba,” she says. However, she adds that the system is relatively new and has not yet been accepted by many patients.


“It was introduced last year and we have only managed to get 20 patients to use it because most of them think that it is a con. But with explanation and engagement with the patients, we have managed to demystify that.”

Ms Catherine Wangeci, who used the service between last year and early this year, approves it saying it helps the patient to avoid the urgency of looking for money at the time of delivery.

“I have visited several clinics and I have never seen such a service. It helped me a lot and I thank Jacaranda Health for introducing it,” said Ms Wangeci.

There is also the mobile clinic, where the CommCare technology comes in handy.

Personnel from the clinic, which was introduced soon after the establishment of the health centre in July 2011, visit churches and schools to mobilise potential clients and get them to register with the hospital.

It operates via a mobile van that creates a direct link with the patients in the community and thus boosts the demand for services and healthy outcomes through antenatal care and birth preparedness.

“Our mobile clinic locations are mainly in churches along the Thika superhighway including Githurai 44, Githurai 45, Mwiki, Kariobangi, Ruiru, and Thika,” says Ms Osia.

During the visits, clients register through the CommCare system from wherever they are found without necessarily visiting the hospital.

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