Training frontline workers on using cellphones for animal disease reporting
Ghana has a severe shortage of vets with only 32 active vets and Community Livestock Workers(CLW) are expected to lead the way in extending livestock services to farmers in hard to reach places. But imagine spending two days compiling field surveillance report from records kept in paper ledgers. After transcribing 100 reports, let alone 1000’s, it would be entirely forgivable to make a note of all the actions required to prevent a dreadful disease from breaking. This used to be the reality for CLWs in Ghana. They would have to maintain – by hand – all the disease surveillance records from the field. Not only is this method incredibly cumbersome but it was also error prone.
But this is changing. Cowtribe is working with the Veterinary Service Departments in 3 regions in Ghana on a program to bring animal health records into the digital age. Cowtribe has created unique software which enables CLWs and veterinary technicians to record and send surveillance reports using their mobile phones. The key insight being that mobile phones could sidestep the usual obstacles of time, cost and distance to provide the fastest route of monitoring diseases, staying in touch with farmers, and conveying critical data to key decision makers at the district, regional and national level.
Cowtribe’s technology is dramatically reducing the time CLWs spend on administration and freeing them up to focus on helping their clients. So far Cowtribe has trained about 120 CLWs on the use of mobile tools fo disease surveillance and reporting. Trainees have also been equipped with smartphone loaded with the cowtribe applications to aid their work. With the new system, it now takes just 5 minutes to send reports. Imagine how liberating this is for the already overstretched frontline workers.
And critically, the technology is transformative for the last mile farmers. Veterinarians and CLWs can now access the cloud based system and find out which vaccines are needed by which farmers in the district. This is preventing missed doses or the double, sometimes triple vaccinations that is common with paper-based systems.
This year, Cowtribe is also working with partners to help animal health content reach even more CLWs. For example, the company is partnering with ACDEP and the Canadian Feed the Children(CFC),to explore ways of integrating Cowtribe’s services into its RESULTS project. Under this partnership Cowtribe will extend its training and animal health information to over 7000 farmers in the 3 northern regions.