Kenya’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with Japanese company, Cancer Scan and its subsidiary AfricaScan, and its preventive healthcare programme development arm, Campus for H have launched an obesity monitoring app called Simway.

Targeting more than 18,000 community health volunteers, the Simway app was solely developed for the Kenyan market.

With the app, the department hopes to reduce rising obesity in Naivasha Sub-County, which according to the Demographic Health Survey Kenya 2014, more than 40% of women in their 30s and 40s are either overweight or obese.

Simway will facilitate interactions between users and healthcare volunteers, who will develop personalised weight-loss plans within the app, help users track progress and make adjustments accordingly.

The app uses a mathematical algorithm to calculate an individual’s energy consumption level, formulate an intake target for a given weight reduction goal and track daily behaviours.

Health volunteers will work hand-in-hand with Simway to help track clients’ weight loss progress. Users are required to update their behaviours in real-time and also keep a close communication with the health volunteers.

Through Simway’s messaging function, health volunteers can communicate with clients after reviewing their behaviours to keep monitoring their progress; this allows users to monitor their own behaviour.

“Simway recommends weight reduction behaviour goals which achieve your personal calorie reduction target, for instance, ‘reduce half a plate of ugali per day.’ Recommendations for behavioural goals are designed consistent with the current lifestyle of Kenyans,” said Managing Director of AfricaScan in Kenya, Kasumi Sawada.

The app is currently on a two-year trial period and available only to the Naivasha health volunteers with future launches planned for the rest of Kenya and Africa once it is reviewed and improved.

“It has just been introduced and yet to see real feedback, but so far responses are good since a person can get personalised weight reduction plan and choose target behaviours from the options which are totally customised for Kenyans,” concluded Sawada.

The app is available for download via Google Play store.

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