A data-driven mobile service which seeks to reduce HIV prevalence amongst people who inject drugs (PWID)
UNAIDS Tanzania, 2017 and the Global Aids Response Country Progress Report (GARPR), 2014 estimate that there are over 30,000 people who inject drugs (PWID) in Tanzania. PWID are considered amongst the key vulnerable population (KVPs), with a HIV prevalence of 36%. Statistics are worse for women who inject heroin; with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health estimating that two-thirds of them are HIV-positive.
The HIV prevalence among women who inject drugs is
thought to be twice that of their male peers, potentially attributable to their involvement in sex work or being last in line when syringes are shared.
Niokoe project wants to leverage on existing heroin rehabilitation data to address existing HIV prevalence and heroin rehabilitation problem points that include:
The Niokoe platform provides the following services:
We collected data by conducting interviews with community health workers, rehabilitation centers and completing sample questionnaires.
We also attended milestone progress review sessions with dLab prior to Niokoe’s deployment, which included panel members from academia, TACAIDs, MoH, TAMISEMI and the hub/innovation ecosystem.
The results noted:
- There are no ICT driven solutions in the KVP HIV/AIDS management sector
- The Niokoe platform’s anonymity appeals to PWID due to the stigma they face, especially with HIV/AIDS risks awareness, screening and management
- The app’s target beneficiaries was refined to include Female Sex Workers (FSW) and Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) due to their access to mobile phones
- In developing our sustainability plan, we noted the need for vocational training to be provided to rehabilitated individuals in order to assist them to secure sources of income
Impact and Outcomes
Since Niokoe’s deployment in October 2019, we have amassed 1,477 users. In monitoring our portal data and obtaining feedback from rehabilitation centers we partnered with, we noted the following:
Ally Salim Junior is the Founder and CEO of Inspired Ideas, the company behind the creation of Dr. Elsa. Ally is a software engineer who is passionate about locally-built solutions that utilize technology, and about empowering others to ensure the health and sustainability of their communities. He works with the rest of his team to build and grow Dr. Elsa: Megan Allen, Happiness Watimanywa, and Jonathan Lukumay.
The team benefited from a $20,000 grant from the Data for Local Impact (DLI) Innovation Challenge in 2019, which has allowed them to obtain necessary technology, collect health data for training the tool, test and validate the models, and implement the tool in Bagamoyo.
Dr. Elsa has an established partnership with Ifakara Health Institute to test the tool. We are thankful for the support from DLIIC, which aims to engage, support, and connect Tanzanian innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other and to opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. To learn more, visit http://www.dlab.or.tz.