Nakuru County Government has adopted a mobile App to address rising cases of sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the devolved unit.
Chief Officer for Public Health, Dr Daniel Wainaina said the App, captures and analyses data and provides reports on submitted cases for further investigation while ensuring confidentiality, as well as dignity of survivors are protected.
MediCapt an android application, the brain child of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a nonprofit international organization, was developed in collaboration with clinicians, legal experts, law enforcement agents and other end-users.
Speaking at the Nakuru Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital during its roll out, Dr Wainaina stated that the App will also document the injuries of survivors and is expected to preserve forensic evidence that can help survivors seek justice.
“The App is designed to capture elaborate data of victims, including gender, type of incident, location, details of the incident, contact, and image of the victims. Decreasing sexual and gender based violence requires a community-based, multi-pronged approach, and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders,” he elaborated.
The Chief Officer for Public Health, indicated that the app that features a web-based online portal for police, lawyers, and judges to securely access case information uploaded by clinicians, also works in areas with low or no internet connectivity.
He added “MediCapt allows clinicians to take forensic photographs of the patient’s physical injuries which are then securely printed via Bluetooth (without routing the data through the internet, which can compromise chain of custody and patient confidentiality)
It also includes cloud data storage, which means the evidence and documentation are securely preserved—a significant improvement over the paper form,”
Dr Wainaina observed that MediCapt further addresses some physical limitations of the paper form. “On the Post Rape Care Form (PCR MOH 363), a medic is supposed to write a detailed report yet only two lines are provided. But on MediCapt, the form will have unlimited characters,”
It also gives categories and Sub-categories of SGBV cases, including gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/abuse, sexual exploitation, defilement and indecent acts.
The Chief Officer noted that even though the App may not solve the problem of sexual harassment in the county, it will help in drastically reducing it.
One of the biggest obstacles in fighting sexual violence is data.
A study by the National Crime Research Centre found that only 15 per cent of women and girls who had been sexually violated reported it to the police.
Yet women’s rights campaigners say this is a huge underestimate, as many victims stay silent due to shame and stigma. Dr Wainaina observed that by recording cases in one place, the app aims to effectively become an online database of information.
He added “The information can then be analyzed to inform policy, prevention and identify potential gaps. Medical record reviews, when conducted ethically and confidentially, provide insights into the experiences of survivors and what programmatic interventions are working—and not working—to improve access to justice for survivors without risking retraumatising them,”
The Chief Officer affirmed that the department of Health services will continue strengthening the capacity of care providers for sustainability in the response to SGBV across the county.
By Anne Mwale and David Opingo