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Glob Health Sci Pract. 2017 Sep 28;5(3):486-494. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-16-00275. Print 2017 Sep 27.

A Mobile-Based Community Health Management Information System for Community Health Workers and Their Supervisors in 2 Districts of Zambia.

Author information

Zambian Centre for Applied Health Research and Development Limited, Lusaka, Zambia.
Center for Global Health and Development and Department of Global Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Zambian Centre for Applied Health Research and Development Limited, Lusaka, Zambia.
Ministry of Health, Child Health Unit, Lusaka, Zambia.
Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Lusaka, Zambia.
Akros, Lusaka, Zambia.
Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



Effective community health management information systems (C-HMIS) are important in low-resource countries that rely heavily on community-based health care providers. Zambia currently lacks a functioning C-HMIS to provide real-time, community-based health information from community health workers (CHWs) to health center staff and higher levels of the health system.


We developed a C-HMIS mobile platform for use by CHWs providing integrated community case management (iCCM) services and their supervisors to address challenges of frequent stock-outs and inadequate supportive supervision of iCCM-trained CHWs. The platform used simple feature mobile phones on which were loaded the District Health Information System version 2 (DHIS2) software and Java 2 platform micro edition (J2ME) aggregation and tracker applications. This project was implemented in Chipata and Chadiza districts, which supported previous mHealth programs and had cellular coverage from all 3 major network carriers in Zambia. A total of 40 CHWs and 20 CHW supervisors received mobile phones with data bundles and training in the mobile application, after which they implemented the program over a period of 5.5 months, from February to mid-July 2016. CHWs used the mobile phones to submit data on iCCM cases seen, managed, and referred, as well as iCCM medical and diagnostic supplies received and dispensed. Using their mobile phones, the supervisors tracked CHWs' reported cases with medicine consumption, sent CHWs feedback on their referrals, and received SMS reminders to set up mentorship sessions.


CHWs were able to use the mobile application to send weekly reports to health center supervisors on disease caseloads and medical commodities consumed, to make drug and supply requisitions, and to send pre-referral notices to health centers. Health center staff used the mobile system to provide feedback to CHWs on the case outcomes of referred patients and to receive automated monthly SMS reminders to invite CHWs to the facility for mentorship. District- and central-level staff were able to access community-level health data in real time using passwords.


C-HMIS, using simple feature phones, was feasible and viable for the provision of real-time community-based health information to all levels of the health care system in Zambia, but smartphones, laptops, or desktop computers are needed to perform data analysis and visualization. Ongoing technical support is needed to address the hardware and software challenges CHWs face in their day-to-day interaction with the application on their mobile phones.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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