CONNECTING USERS IN ZANZIBAR WITH HOSPITALS AND PHARMACIES
HealthLoc Platform to Locate Nearby Health Facilities
Most people in Zanzibar are not aware of nearby health centers and the services those centers offer; and for tourists with no local knowledge the challenge of locating nearby healthcare is even greater. According to the HealthLoc team fieldwork, however, most people who visit or live on the Unguja Island of Zanzibar have smartphones. This fact creates an opportunity to close this knowledge gap by developing a mobile platform that provides access to information on healthcare options, including location, services offered, and even the availability of the specialists in real time.
In Zanzibar, most people currently rely on word of mouth to locate health services and make health decisions. There is no platform to assist in locating health centers, and once a hospital is located, it may still be unclear what services that hospital provides. Determining the availability of the specialist in a specific hospital poses yet another challenge to people who require specialized medical attention.
Health Loc is a mobile platform that will allows users to locate the nearest health centers to their current location. The platform will identify what services are available at the health centers so users can make an informed decision about where their needs will be best met, and the platform will provide a map and directions to guide the user there. Real-time schedule information about specialists will assist people with specific or specialized needs. The project is slated to begin in the urban area of Unguja, Zanzibar.
Project Focus Area in Unguja, Zanzibar
In addition to the technical work of creating the platform, the HealthLoc team has been working to generate public buy-in by educating and training citizens in use of the system and by meeting with stakeholders including hospitals, medical specialists, pharmacists, and health ministry officials to promote the platform. Developing the system has been iterative, as the team gathers more information on user requirements and ways to improve service delivery.
As a result of the HealthLoc platform, users within the covered geographic area will be able to quickly and reliably locate health centers offering needed services as well as on-duty specialists.
The Ministry of Health of Zanzibar is an active participant in HealthLoc whose support will bring about successful and great impact to this project.