mHEALTH-INNOVATE (5) What can we learn from health workers' informal use of mobile phones? (4)

10 April, 2022

Good day Claire

The use of WhatsApp started as an initiative of the Health Care Workers themselves. I observed it pre-COVID in 2019 when l was working at the District Health Level. Due to wide use of mobile phones in the districts and inadequate network of the traditional telephones and also challenges with internet connectivity - WhatsApp groups that were created became a quick way of communicating.

When l moved to the National Health Care level - just as the COVID-19 pandemic - l observed the increased use of WhatApp groups to coordinate members of the various pillars and also to discuss emerging issues.

In both instances, the initiative was of healthcare workers themselves and the leadership eventually started encouraging use of WhatsApp groups as a channel of communication.

However, as indicated in my other post - there is need for clear cut policies on the use of these platforms for communication.

Ethical considerations may include:

1. How to share patient related data while anonymysing it when seeking guidance on how to handle cases?

2. What is the type of information that can be shared that is not sensitive or may cause disruption should it be shared outside the intended WhatsApp groups?

3. Do we consider discussions done and resolutions passed on WhatApp platforms as binding eg work assignments given to employees via this platform-would an employee who does not follow through be liable for disciplinary measures.

4. How do we handle harassment issues that originate from discussions on some WhatsApp groups?

5. How do we handle grievances aired on the WhatsApp platforms?Who follows them up?

Thank you.



HIFA profile: Venus Mushininga is a pharmacist with the Ministry of Health and Childcare in Zimbabwe. She is a founder and President of the Zimbabwe Society of Oncology Pharmacy and the Zimbabewan delegate to the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy. Professional interests: Oncology, Dissemination of information through to Health Professionals and the public, Research. She is co-coordinator of the HIFA working group on information for Prescribers and Users of Medicines. Email: vmushininga AT

Email: vmushininga AT