New app empowers HIV-positive children and healthcare workers
Keep A Child Alive and Zoë-Life, in collaboration with the Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ Initiative, today launched the KidzAlive Talk Tool App, an innovative mobile health solution that equips healthcare workers to provide age-appropriate HIV education to children and adolescents, as well as their primary caregivers.
Great strides have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS globally, and while this is particularly true among adults in South Africa, social and structural barriers are leaving children and adolescents behind. Primary caregivers fear getting their children tested because of the possibility of having to disclose an HIV-positive result and the stigma of living with HIV. Healthcare workers are often overwhelmed by the difficult task of talking to young children who are at risk and who require counseling and testing – they express a lack of confidence in how to approach these conversations and often do not have child-friendly job aids to assist in the process.
Innovated by Zoë-Life, the KidzAlive Talk Tool App provides healthcare workers with the support they need to interact with children and their caregivers in an age-appropriate way. Healthcare workers use the app to engage children in the animated journey of a frog named Sibusiso as he goes for HIV testing, learns his positive status and comes to understand the importance of adhering to his treatment.
The app has built-in prompts to assist healthcare workers in guiding children through their own journey of HIV testing, learning their test results, overcoming stigma and learning about prevention and healthy living. The app, which is currently available in three languages, includes interactive games which keep the children focused and engaged and increases their retention of information.
“The KidzAlive Talk Tool App demonstrates a creative and effective way to use mobile technology to improve health services and involve communities in HIV prevention and treatment,” says Antonio Ruiz-Giménez, Jr., Executive Chairman and CEO, at Keep A Child Alive. “We are very excited about partnering with Qualcomm Wireless Reach on this project.”
In a recent pilot study of the KidzAlive Talk Tool App, 33 healthcare workers at private- and government-healthcare facilities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal trialed the app following in-depth training. “After their training, healthcare workers experienced a 62 percent increase in confidence and competence in providing age-appropriate counselling and care for HIV-exposed and -infected children,” says Dr. Stephanie Thomas, Executive Director, at Zoë-Life. “Primary caregivers participating in the pilot study were more willing to give consent for their children to receive HIV testing and counselling.”
“At Qualcomm, we believe that advanced mobile technologies have a great role to play in improving access to healthcare services, lowering costs and increasing efficiencies,” says Elizabeth Migwalla, Senior Director of Government Affairs for Africa and the Middle East, Qualcomm International, Inc. “We are proud to collaborate with Zoë-Life and Keep A Child Alive to extend South Africa’s AIDS response to its most vulnerable populations and support the nation’s children in leading healthy lives.”
Zoë-Life is a non-profit organization which believes that unlocking a resilient future for the continent lies in bringing wholeness to its children and youth. To this end, its work revolves around forging pathways to a hopefully future by collectively raising a generation of healthy, productive and fulfilled individuals. The mission of their KidzAlive programme is to bring peace and comfort to children with chronic diseases and to free them from stigma and fear. Zoë-Life is the sub-grantee of Keep A Child Alive, founded in 2003 by AIDS activist Leigh Blake and Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys to get life-saving medication to children dying of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.