Technology Decentralizes Access to Health Care Throughout Somali Peninsula
When global humanitarian organization, Alight, teamed up with leading healthcare disruptor, THINKMD, its initial focus was around improving maternal and child health care services in the Somali region and South Sudan by utilizing THINKMD’s clinical decision support technology to enable and empower community health workers and qualified healthcare personnel in remote location to easily and effectively determine a diagnosis for a range of ailments. However, in 2020, as a global pandemic erupted, Alight and THINKMD were able to quickly pivot their focus and expand the services they provide to include screening and diagnostic capabilities directly related to COVID-19 through a decentralized technology network. This allowed the teams to get a better handle on tracking the virus amongst vulnerable migrant populations.
“When we initially engaged with THINKMD, dealing with and helping to prevent the spread of a global pandemic wasn’t anywhere on our radar,” says Daniel Wordsworth, Alight CEO. “Prior to COVID-19, we saw first-hand how impactful the program was amongst the most vulnerable populations – lactating mothers and children ages zero to five – as well as the strength of our growing partnership, and believe that we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we would be in fighting COVID-19 if our partnership with THINKMD was not already in place.”
THINKMD’s mission is to eliminate preventable deaths by combining digital clinical intelligence with mobile technology to improve and increase access to global healthcare and healthcare capacity. Aligned with Alight’s approach to not only provide human-worthy services, but also protect and provide a safety net for vulnerable populations, the partnership was aptly equipped for expansion, not only due to its already demonstrated success, but also its ability to be fast tracked and respond to COVID-19’s rapid spread.
“Working with Alight’s staff throughout the Somali Peninsula has been seamless since we started our partnership in September 2019,” remarks Barry Finette, THINKMD’s CEO and co-founder. “Their staff’s dedication and passion for saving lives in one of the most vulnerable areas of the world, combined with our digital health technology has resulted in an improvement in adherence to WHO protocols and a resulting increase in the quality and capacity of care delivered.”
Prior to engaging with THINKMD, Alight operated numerous health clinics throughout South Sudan, Somaliland and the Somali Peninsula, making their footprint both large and diverse in scope. For years, the absence of an effective infrastructure to standardize and monitor care at these otherwise-unrelated facilities was a primary concern. However, this was quickly addressed when Alight partnered with THINKMD in 2018. A measurable standard of care, and increased data collection and analysis were swiftly established, which provided community health workers with diagnostic tools for improved triage services.
“Utilizing THINKMD’s diagnostic technology has greatly improved access to quality healthcare services, as well as our ability to provide a higher level of care across the board,” adds Wardere Abdikarim, Alight’s Health and Nutrition Coordinator. “THINKMD’s technology allows the limited amount of specialized health care workers to focus on more urgent situations by putting diagnosis and treatment of non-life-threatening illnesses in the hands of community health workers.”
Established in 1978 by founder Neal Ball, Alight, formerly known as American Refugee Committee, provides health care, clean water, shelter, protection and economic opportunities to more than 3.5 million people in 19 countries each year. Alight believes in the incredible creativity, potential and ingenuity of the displaced and works to shine a light on their humanity, the tremendous amount of good that’s already happening and the possibilities to do more. In 2020, Alight received the prestigious 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the tenth consecutive year, celebrating a decade of impactful work. The organization exists to see and help every person make meaningful change in the world – from displaced and marginalized communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas to…anyone, anywhere. Learn more about Alight at www.wearealight.org.
THINKMD’s mission is to expand access to quality healthcare for everyone, everywhere. Based in Burlington, Vermont, THNKMD develops innovative clinical decision support technology that helps any user identify how sick a person is, what illness they may have and what appropriate steps to take. By combining next-generation clinical intelligence logic with mobile technology, THINKMD empowers users, healthcare delivery organizations and governments with acquired data that informs accurate clinical and public health decision-making. Learn more at: www.thinkmd.org. Learn more about our COVID-19 work at https://thinkmd.org/covid-19/.