Healthy Learners and THINKMD increase coverage 10x in three years in Zambia.
Healthy Learners, which utilizes THINKMD’s clinical intelligence and data platform in over 475 schools, now provides healthcare to over 847,000 students in Zambia – a rapid scaling of healthcare in schools, meeting children where they are to keep them healthy so they can learn.
Global health systems often overlook the needs of children older than five, yet school-aged children remain highly exposed to illness. In Zambia, more than 40% of students regularly suffer from treatable and preventable illnesses. Healthy Learners is a Zambian non-profit organization, on a mission to keep Zambian school children healthy so they can learn. Healthy Learners partners with the Zambian government to bring healthcare to where children already are – their schools – by training and equipping the people whom children trust and are with nearly every day – their teachers. Through a school-based community health model, Healthy Learners turns educators into a community of health advocates and schools into a bridge to the healthcare system. This enables children to access health services in substantially greater numbers, resulting in improved attendance, reduction in illness-related complications and, ultimately, better health outcomes, learning, and human capital development.
In 2018, Healthy Learners partnered with THINKMD to replace its paper-based assessment methods with THINKMD’s platform. In the first year of the partnership, the number of students being served by the Healthy Learners program grew from 60,000 to 110,000 with a goal to reach 250,000 students by 2024 – a goal that they have already significantly exceeded. As of October 2023, this number is over 840,000.
“We are proud to announce that over 15% of Zambia’s public primary school population has access to a high quality clinical assessment and referral to a health facility if necessary, far surpassing our initial vision for 2024,” said Lonnie Hackett, CEO of Healthy Learners. “Relationships with the Zambian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education have been critical for scale, while the adoption of THINKMD’s platform has transformed the ability to impact students and their health via high quality, cost-effective health services.”
THINKMD’s clinical intelligence and data analytics platform is used by teachers, who are trained as School Health Workers (SHWs), expanding their clinical capacity so they can identify which students are sick, what illnesses they may have and if they need to be referred to a clinic. The platform is based on logic used by physicians, providing clinical guidance while collecting important health data digitally. Initial data shows significant impact for health and education outcomes, including documented changes in health-seeking behavior of students, linkages developed between schools and clinics, cost-efficiency and scalability as well as the adoption and codification of the model into policy by both Ministries of Health and Education in Zambia.
“The effort to improve healthcare access for school-age children has been incredibly successful, and we are proud to have contributed to the positive impact on the lives of so many young people,” said Dr. Barry Finette, THINKMD co-founder and president.
Healthy Learners will work with the Zambian government to reach a new target of 1,200,000 students by 2025.