Boston University MPH Students Collaborate with Pediatric Cardiologist on an mHealth Application to Mitigate the High Prevalence of RHD in Malawi
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a preventable chronic disease that results from untreated strep throat. Approximately 300 million people are affected by RHD worldwide and 275 thousand die as a result of RHD each year. Highly associated with low socio-economic status, RHD leads to significant cardiac morbidity and mortality. Treatment of RHD involves monthly injections of Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG) to prevent further strep infection and disease progression. Close monitoring and timely BPG administration are key to successful maintenance. Since any interruption in monthly BPG injections leaves patients living with RHD susceptible to infection. In Malawi, RHD remains a significant public health issue, with no standard way for clinicians to track patients’ treatment.
Using Mobile Technologies to Improve Health Outcomes (GH804) is an mHealth course offered to Masters of Public Health students at Boston University, led by Dr. James Wolff, Jonathan Payne, and Justin Maly. Students work in teams with an assigned client to develop an application to improve a public health outcome. Our team, Novus Health Consulting Group, worked with Dr. Amy Sanyahumbi, a pediatric cardiologist specializing in the treatment of RHD at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Over the course of nine weeks, we developed a Remote-Entry Data capture (RED) mobile application registry, via CommCare, that will allow Dr. Sanyahumbi and local health workers in Malawi keep an accurate, up-to-date record of youth who have RHD and ensure that they receive the monthly BPG injections that will prevent them from developing severe RHD.
The application consists of six different forms- Registration, Annual Visit, RHD Follow-up, BPG Follow-up, Question Form and Adverse Event Form. Initially, Dr. Sanyahumbi and local health workers in two central hospitals and local clinics across Malawi will use the application to improve the surveillance of RHD among youth in rural and urban Malawi and increase the timeliness of monthly injections of BPG to pediatric patients registered in the application. The mobile centralized monitoring system of the application will capture data that will eventually feed into a country-wide RHD registry. For more details about this application and the student project visit collaborate.health.bu.edu or click here.
This article was submitted to RHD Action from Boston University, MPH Candidates, Yara Altaher1, Araz Chiloyan2, Haley Friedler3
1Master of Public Health Candidate with an emphasis on Global Health Program Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation, and Program Management, School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
2Master of Public Health Candidate with an emphasis on Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Design and Conduct of Public Health Research, School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
3Master of Public Health Candidate with an emphasis on Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Health Communication and Promotion, School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA