Glasgow tech firm helps South African charity to improve HIV logistics operations
A Glasgow tech company is helping charity workers in South Africa to improve the logistical operations of delivering care and support to young women affected by HIV.
Simul8, which uses simulation software to create digital models of real-world processes, is helping the Shout-It-Now (Shout) aid organise to optimise its operations so that it can treat more patients with its fleet of mobile clinics.
The not-for-profit specialises in providing HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence support services to communities in South Africa.
South Africa has the largest population of people living with HIV in the world, with one in five people living with the virus. To prevent HIV infections and support those who are living with HIV, Shout brings a range of free, friendly health services to hard-to-reach communities.
These include HIV testing, PrEP (also known as the HIV prevention pill), STI screening, contraception, gender-based violence prevention and counselling as well as educational life skills programs. The service is delivered via a range of mobile healthcare vehicles, staffed by nurses, social workers and specialist health advisors as well as a support team that travel into communities every day to deliver the vital services where they are most needed.
William Taylor, head of operations at Shout, said: “Our mobile care and support facilities are designed to make our service private, comfortable and welcoming, and all completely free. But this is also about so much more than just a medical testing and treatment programme. We very actively provide prevention services in the communities we visit, talking to both young women and men to promote healthy behaviours and healthy lifestyle choices, as well as normalise conversations around sex and relationships. Currently in South Africa there is so much stigma around these topics, but a lack of education has such a devastating effect on people’s lives with close to 200 young women becoming HIV positive each day, and eight reports of gender-based violence every hour.
“Shout it Now is all about working with youth, families, schools and community members to prevent such cruel outcomes. Of course, it’s a huge task with limited financial resources, so our approach is to combine global best practices with tech-driven innovations, so we can make a meaningful and measurable impact on HIV prevention in South Africa. This is where we came into partnership with Simul8.”
Shout it Now has always embraced technology to improve the quality and reach of its services. The high-tech mobile clinics are fully equipped with the latest diagnostic tools and communications kit and there is also a state-of-the-art contact centre and a bespoke app for the service. In keeping with its focus on technology-based solutions, simulation technology from Simul8 has now been introduced to make sure that the limited resources available to the non-profit organisation are used in the most optimal way. Using Simul8, the team are able to plan the effective distribution of resources, including people, skills, equipment and scheduling. It has been provided to the charity on a pro bono basis as part of Simul8’s commitment to its Tech4Good programme.
Laura Reid, CEO at Simul8, said: “We’re fortunate in the West where we have relatively generous resources to diagnose and treat people with HIV. When we heard about Shout it Now’s efforts to tackle this epidemic in South Africa, in communities that are far less fortunate, we felt a real responsibility to offer our support.
“Since Simul8’s technology has been developed for the very purpose of improving delivery mechanisms and overcoming logistical challenges, and with Shout it Now’s passion for seeking out innovative ways to improve the client experience, we have found it to be a great fit. We’re so happy that our technology is being used to make a difference to the young women accessing these essential services.”