Monday September 26, 2022

AKU’s Hayat mobile app wins first prize for maternal, neonatal health

By Our Correspondent
August 20, 2022

The Aga Khan University’s Hayat mobile application has been recognised for its novelty and innovativeness at the international Commonwealth Digital Health Awards (CWDHA) 2022. The app won the top prize for the Maternal and Neonatal Health category at the 5th CWDHA for demonstrating improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) care services.

Given the considerable increase in digital health innovations during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s event was the most competitive to date. A substantially high number of nominations were received from across the globe for the Maternal and Neonatal Health category, among which only ten, including Hayat, were shortlisted for the final round.

Pakistan reports some of the worst health outcomes in RMNCH indicators, despite considerable investments in infrastructure and human resource development. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and neonatal mortality ratio (NMR) stand at 186 per 100,000 live births and 40 per 1,000 live births, respectively, indicating an urgent need for innovative and efficient solutions to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets of MMR 70 and NMR 12 by 2030. When compared to urban areas, the disparity in MMR and NMR is 26 per cent higher in rural areas in Pakistan.

Hayat was implemented in 2019 in rural areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to combat these challenges and help enhance accessibility and coverage of RMNCH, immunization and child growth services. The app digitalizes health worker operations and improves remote monitoring and tracking of their field activities, thereby reducing the need for manual, paper-based recording in registers. It comprises a comprehensive monitoring platform, called the Hayat web portal, to facilitate remote supervision by government administrators in real-time, to improve transparency and accountability and to enable effective and timely decision-making and appropriate allocation of resources.

“Pakistan’s health system suffers from inefficiencies caused by underperformance of health workers and lack of accountability and transparency, resulting in poor governance. These challenges disproportionately affect women of reproductive age and children - and Hayat works to overcome these difficulties by leveraging innovative digital health technologies to boost productivity and monitoring,” commented Saleem Sayani, principal investigator, Hayat.

AKU and Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan (AKHS, P) are implementing Hayat in close collaboration with the Department of Health, Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Department of Health, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), in their efforts to leverage digital health technologies to achieve to SDG 3: Health and well-being for all.

“Our aim is to support the implementation, expansion and sustainability of digital health innovations in collaboration with the government in Gilgit-Baltistan and KPK, in order to improve health outcomes for the underserved populations of northern Pakistan,” said Nadeem Abbas, CEO, AKHS, P.

“In its fourth year of implementation, Hayat is being used by 485 health workers and has been able to reach over 320,000 beneficiaries.” Hayat has been funded by the Grand Challenges Canada with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation.