Community Health Toolkit

The CHT and the COVID-19 Response

Hi everyone,

I’ve taken part in a growing number of conversations related to COVID-19 response and I wanted to share an update about what people in the CHT community are doing. Our community has responded to major outbreaks in the past as well as other fast-moving crises (like major earth quakes in Haiti and Nepal), and we’ve learned a few lessons from these experiences that I hope we will apply to the present situation.

We’re starting by educating ourselves
This is a diverse community and while there are a number of epidemiologists on the forum, many others have less public health background. While you can go to The New York Times for COVID-19 live news, here are some articles that we’ve found helpful for more of a general overview of key points to inform COVID responders:


Short take aways: 1. there’s much the scientific community is still learning about COVID; 2. we know it will disproportionately impact the poor and vulnerable; 3) let’s take this opportunity to strengthen health systems, because:

In the context of an emerging viral pneumonia epidemic in LMICs, effective implementation of pneumonia control strategies can also serve as pneumonia “preparedness” efforts, reducing the risk that novel pathogens like COVID-19 will derail health progress to date, especially on child survival.

Supporting government-led responses and existing digital health deployments is smart
When the global community began responding to the major Ebola outbreak of 2013-2016, there was a chaotic mess of poorly thought through “digital solutions” to the crisis. As was noted in the news media at the time, and as I’ve commented on in my scholarly work on Ebola, many of these projects vastly underappreciated the complexity of the crisis, and failed to pragmatically support the staff, stuff, space, and systems that needed strengthening.

One opportunity to do better is to start by effectively accompanying our partners in Ministries of Health as they lead nationally coordinated responses. We’ve always said we don’t start with tech, we start with people, and this human-centered message is never more important than in a time of crisis. The team at Medic Mobile supports large digital health projects led by government partners in Nepal and Kenya in particular, and our initial offer of support to them has not been new tech, but staff time. Living Goods is another major CHT implementer who I know is thinking not only about what their tech can do, but also how they can free up staff time to work collaboratively on the COVID response.

Another key message is that COVID responses can and should, wherever possible, build on existing deployments. This allows us to take advantage of existing infrastructure, which could increase the success with which we address COVID, and it also stands to strengthen responses to other health issues that stand to get worse in places where COVID takes a real toll on routine healthcare delivery. In some cases these existing systems are already suited to outbreak response, like the Event Based Surveillance system that we currently support in Kenya, and which will hopefully soon have a lay case definition for COVID added to the mix. As Asif and Andrew from Living Goods shared with me the other day, it likely also means adding COVID-related content to existing integrated care apps. This leads me to the next point:

We’re coordinating with the wider digital health community
We’ve also been coordinating with the wider digital health community, and we’re seeing a similar pragmatism around wanting to build on systems that have already been deployed and can be adapted/strengthened. I’ve been in touch with folks from Dimagi about their concept note on CommCare for the COVID response, and we’re reviewing the info the DHIS2 community just shared, and trying to figure out where we can share content, ideas, coordinate. The CHT was featured in an ICTWorks post as one of 10 digital health solutions for the COVID response, and some people from Medic will soon be participating in COVID response workshops facilitated by the Global Digital Health Network. The spirit of cooperation and solidarity in this agenda is deeply heartening.

If you want to stay up to date about what this community is doing, feel free to like this post or leave a comment and (depending on your user settings with this forum) you should get updates when others post in this thread. I’m hoping that others will share info about what they’re working on, as well as updates and requests for help as the situation evolves. Thanks in advance everyone.


This webinar possibly of interest:

Global digital health
Please RSVP now to join a special convening of the Global Digital Health Network to explore how we can support the COVID-19 response, on Thursday, March 12th –thanks to JSI and IntraHealth International.
++ Agenda +++

CHIC, of which several orgs on here are a part, have also just thrown up a page on which to share resources, including the great stuff Isaac shared above:


Hi everyone! @isaacholeman and @amanda have asked me to coordinate our Research & Learning team’s contribution to the CHT COVID-19 response.

I’ll be representing the R&L team’s perspective across the three areas of engagement that Isaac highlighted:

  • Informing ourselves and our community
  • Working with government and ministry of health partners
  • Engaging with the broader digital health community.

For example, I’ll be helping to define which data we are collecting across the CHT response in order to ensure that we have coherent information across projects and use cases.

I’m excited to contribute to this effort and look forward to working with other CHT team representatives on our collective response in the coming days.


@mballard Is there already a working group formed via CHIC members focused on CHW safety, responsible continuation of essential door-to-door health care, and CHW mental health? In discussions with partners, it sounds like each organization is coming up with plans.

I’m thinking about sharing practical ideas and latest relevant information, advocating for funding where there are gaps, and considering any useful roles for digital tools. If a working group doesn’t exist, do you have recommendations for next steps?


I’m seeing this update in the CHIC doc, “Developed a cross organizational COVID-19 working group of, e.g., Medical Directors, HR, Exec Team, Operations at country levels. Meet daily to assess developments around transmission at each of our country contexts and to ensure clear information and communication to staff each day.”

Would this be the right group to work on the topics mentioned above? If this is an ongoing call, could someone from Medic join? If that group is sharing plans and resources, we’d love to see them.


Yesterday I was part of a meeting organized by the Kenya Healthcare Federation ( KHF ) a private sector membership-based organization and serves as the health sector board of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. MM is an official member of the KHF.

  • The members brainstormed on a 3 phased approach (prevention of spread phase, containment phase, lock down phase) and each committee was tasked with coming up with short, mid and long term interventions in each phase.
  • MM is part of the ICT committee who will be coming up with interventions on how we can leverage technology in each phase. ( I shared what we have done on EBS together with MoH and our exploration in expanding the EBS system to include COVID-19). Other partners in the ICT committee are working on leveraging on social media for effective,fast communication to the public. Medic Mobile will plug into the ICT committee and contribute on the short, mid and long term needs.

My take away:

  • How can we plug in each phase and ensure our tools are addressing the short, mid and long term needs. For instance, how does our tool address behavior change, support existing gaps faced by MoH maybe in communication, capacity building of MoH staff in reference to the go-slow by the Mbagathi hospital nurses, strengthening the EOC,
  • The MoH and private sector led COVID-19 discussions are happening on a daily basis, how do we tap in and ensure we are heard and seen to provide the solution.
  • Right now the MoH is aware that there are agencies/organizations working independently to develop COVID-19 interventions, how can we align ourselves with MoH approved guidelines and be the solution provider or go-to-expert in tech solutions.

Call @ 1pm ET this Friday and likely for next 4-6 weeks at least.

Plan is sharing learning, guidance and approaches on operational and programmatic decision making regarding COVID-19. Priority topics include:

  • Staff safety & security of staff
  • Operational readiness
  • Programmatic design and approach of activities at community, health facility and national level

Medic received an invite. For any others who would like to join please ping me w/your email and we will add you to the invite!

(N.B. recognize this is a bad time for Asia - hoping to get future calls scheduled slightly earlier)


Many thanks, Madeleine – I’ll be there.

Is your organization actively responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic? CORE Group is convening members of civil society organizations in the International Community Health Network to discuss their country-level and global needs for community-based response to COVID-19.

This coordination call is happening tomorrow, Friday, March 20th from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT.

I’m planning on representing Medic Mobile and the CHT’s efforts to address COVID-19 on the call. I encourage other partners and interested parties to attend and share their response as well.

More information on how to register and be a part of the community by following this link. I hope to hear from many of you tomorrow morning!


Here’s a list of resources regarding COVID-19 and community health workers shared by the Community Health Academy:


Hi all,

Over the past three days, the Community Health Impact Coalition (including @joshnesbit, @isaacholeman, and @helenelizabeth) came together to outline the urgent actions needed globally to address the pandemic: Priorities for the Global COVID-19 Response.

Ww focused on pragmatic steps needed now and next with the following goals:

  1. Protect health care workers
  2. Interrupt the virus
  3. Maintain existing health care services while surging capacity
  4. Shield the most vulnerable from socioeconomic shocks

It’s a working paper so we’d welcome feedback


Apologies! Just saw that Josh posted this is a new thread! Community Health Impact Coalition priorities for the global COVID-19 response

As Covid-19 spreads across countries where we support partners and health workers – and where our teammates work and live – we have been focused on supporting global preparedness and response efforts in solidarity with the partners, health workers, and communities that we serve. :earth_americas:

Medic Mobile is inspired by the perseverance, tenacity, and empathy that Ministries of Health, community health implementers and the wider digital health community are displaying in the face of Covid-19, and we’re committed to playing our part in these challenging times.

Read more about our response on our blog.

MM - Covid-19