In KwaZulu Natal Province, more than 1.6 million people live with HIV or AIDS, making it the worst affected province in South Africa.
War Rooms’ set up by the government aim to coordinate the provision of essential health services and information for people living with the disease, fighting to make sure the right medicine gets to the right people in the right places. They are intended to be community-driven.
But the system is struggling. Information from the community level is not getting to those who make decisions about how money for health services is allocated – and services are not being delivered to those who need it most.
From Apps to Accountability
This week, a new partnership led by eThekwini government, Durban University of Technology in conjunction with the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier and technology firm Siyaleader is launching to ensure better access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The project has received a 12-month grant of £96,944 and provides a great example of how development projects can in fact, be government-led.
“Too often in innovation for governance projects, government is the last to be involved, or worse, not involved at all. In this project however, government is in the lead and all parties are working together to solve the same problem’ – Programme Officer Gontse Legong.
Aggregating data to paint a ‘bigger picture’
There are 103 wards in the eThekwini district. Each ward is expected to have a functional Ward AIDS Committee (WAC) linked to a War-room which exist in each municipal ward within the district.
Through Siyaleader platform, officials will be able track individual performance of caregivers in every ward, indicating where health services aren’t functioning.
Health centres are the first point of contact for HIV/AIDS suffers to connect with essential health services, and also other critical government support.
“Our entry point is someone who is HIV positive, but if we find this person is in need of other life-enhancing services, we’ll be able to assist. For example, someone who is homeless will be assisted to apply for housing assistance, or someone who can’t get access to care due to a lack of documentation will be assisted in this also” – Project Manager Welcome Mbokazi
Ensuring accountability at all levels
Technology provided by Siyaleader is already being used in other government departments including social security and home affairs.
In a project focusing on Operation Sukuma Sakhe, information was being reported to a government department’s office without directing it to a specific individual within that office. Therefore, no one person within the government’s department was directly responsible. To ensure each case will be assigned to a specific government officer and if no response is recorded, the case will escalate to a regional office or provincial office.
Changing perceptions and building trust
As Project Manager Welcome Mbokazi reflects, part of the challenge will be raising the awareness of the role of War Rooms, and how they can assist people.
“Citizens who have previously registered with War Rooms, but not received access to care or have been “missed” in the system may have a harder time coming back for assistance. In addition participation of all stakeholders will be key to the projects success.”
Technology used in this platform will be embedded at all levels in service delivery and empower those both in the War Rooms and within government to have better oversight of where services are failing to reach people.
“It’s often said that ‘together we can do more’ and at DUT we’re excited to be working with key actors, as well as using new and existing technology, to together fight HIV/ Aids in the eThekwini District.”
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