A Leap Forward: Containing COVID-19 in Ethiopia

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(Photo: Amref Health Africa)

June 4, 2020 – Amref Health Africa’s mobile-learning platform, Leap, will be used as part of the Ethiopian Government’s Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19, training frontline health workers in the fight against the virus.

As of May 27, Ethiopia has 731 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Amref is increasing our efforts in building the capacity of health workers in surveillance, early detection, tracking and treatment referral to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Amref’s mobile-learning platform, Leap, has been commissioned by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to provide immediate training for community health workers on the frontline to help us do this work. Learn more about LEAP.

Beginning in mid-May, the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia has been rolling out Leap to train Health Extension Workers (HEWs) – Ethiopia’s version of Community Health Workers – and train their supervisors in the COVID-19 response. The mobile-phone-based learning course combines interactive text and audio messages with quizzes, equipping HEWs with the knowledge required to support their communities in preventing and containing the virus.

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Leap is compatible with both smart and basic mobile phone devices, ensuring the information is accessible even in the most remote parts of the country.

“The introduction of our mobile-learning platform into the Ministry of Health’s response to the pandemic was extremely timely,” says Misrak Makonnen, Country Director of Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia. “With Leap, many more health extension workers can be reached while still maintaining social distancing.”

She continues: “This is a time where the use of digital technology should be maximized to protect our frontline workers supporting our affected communities, and I am excited that we are partnering with the Ministry of Health to do so.”

Going forward, the Ministry of Health has also announced its intentions to use Leap to train HEWs on other, non-COVID-19 related health issues to strengthen the continuity of essential health services, building recovery into its crisis response. Together with Amref, the Ministry of Health has begun to roll out the training across the country, with the aim to reach thousands of community health workers nationwide.

All HEWs will be trained over the coming months and will be actively engaged in the prevention and control of COVID-19. As of 27 May, 749 health workers have started the training and a further 452 have completed the course, using their new knowledge to raise awareness among communities in Addis Ababa via house-to-house visits where they identify and refer suspected cases.