Breaking Access and Awareness Barriers in Hypertension and Diabetes Care Through Mobile

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(L -R)- Isaiah Okoth, Country Director PharmAccess, Reuben Magoko National Chairman KDDA, Angela Siteyi Project Director, Pharm Access and Ayman Eissa, Head of Human Pharmaceutical Subsaharan Africa, Boehringer Ingelheim.

Using mobile technology to break access and awareness barriers in hypertension and diabetes: that is what the new ‘Tiba Yako’ program strives for. The initiative for the program was launched in Nairobi, Kenya by Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companiesand PharmAccess, a non-profit organization that works to improve access to quality healthcare in Africa.

The Tiba Yako program screens and directly supports positively screened patients with awareness, access and adherence to diabetes and hypertension care. The mobile phone is the linking pin in this integrated approach.

PharmAccess and partners developed a digital payment platform for healthcare called M-TIBA. M-TIBA provides access to healthcare by connecting people to clinics and healthcare funders, directly through a wallet on their mobile phone, and exchanging money and data between them. Within the Tiba Yako program, the platform will now also provide access support for hypertension and diabetes care in the mobile wallets of low income patients, which they can use to co-pay for care at selected clinics in Nairobi, Kiambu and Vihiga Country. Moreover, the program allows patients to monitor their blood pressure and blood glucose levels at their convenience at home, digitally sending the results to their doctor for review. Combined with digital awareness and self-management support through an innovative app called Afya Pap, this integrated approach aims to increase symptom recognition and treatment adherence.

 The Tiba Yako program is in line with the ‘In Reach Africa’ initiative of Boehringer Ingelheim, which aims at facilitating quality and access of human and animal healthcare across the African continent. Ayman Eissa, Head of Human Pharmaceuticals across the Sub Saharan Africa at Boehringer Ingelheim said: “our fundamental priority in the region is to develop solutions that enable screening and education. With Tiba Yako, we have a clear strategy in place to improve access to healthcare for those in need.”

 The high mobile penetration rates in Kenya – also amongst the low-income groups – creates massive opportunities for direct service and financing models. Mobile technology can be used to increase healthcare access for many who are currently underserved. Isaiah Okoth, Country Director- PharmAccess: ”Digital technology enables directly supporting people to access care, and enables people to self-manage and control their disease from home. The Tiba Yako program supports hypertension and diabetes patients and enables them to take control of their own health”.

 There is currently an unmet need for efficient and widely accessible care for hypertension and diabetes in Kenya, where prevalence among adults is high, with low levels of awareness, treatment and control.[1]Notably, over 50% of patients with diabetes or hypertension are not aware of their diagnosis, and many have scarce knowledge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or are not compliant with treatment.[2] Chronic diseases such as diabetes have serious implications if left uncontrolled, including microvascular damage to blood vessels, and microvascular damage to eyesight, nerves and feet.[3]