A medical app helps identify abuse of children

Violence against children in South Africa has been categorised by World Vision as a national disaster. More than 34% have been victims of sexual abuse — that’s a third of all children in the country.

“While the idea that one in three children is a victim of abuse is shocking, that is not the figure that shocked me,” says Mara Glennie, founder of the Medi-App Research Project. “What concerned me is that the statistics also show that about 80% of child abuse goes undetected.

The Medi-App has been developed to assist medical clinicians in identifying potential abuse and in helping children receive the care that they desperately need.

“I wanted to create a system where this abuse would be seen so these children could get the care they need,” says Glennie. “I am a victim of abuse myself and I know that if you don’t get the healing, you carry bad stuff into the future.”

The goal of Medi-App is to increase reporting and the convictions of perpetrators as well as to record more accurate statistics regarding gender-based violence. It is a huge step towards building stronger and safer communities, especially for the vulnerable – children. The app underwent a proof of concept trial in Ekurhuleni in 2015 and the second trial is set to take place with the University of the Witwatersrand.

“The trial we are about to undertake at Wits will be taking place using a system that’s recognised globally,” explains Glennie. “Once I have the data and results, I can take it to the ministry of health and work towards putting Medi-App into every hospital in the country and then the world. Abuse is not unique to South Africa.”

When one considers that in a class of 30 children 15 will have been abused and, out of those 15 few will have received the care they need, it is obvious how important this system is. Medi-App is easily replicated and scaled. It is also cost-effective and designed to make it as user-friendly and accessible as possible.

“The app enables the detection and reporting of cases of abuse and is focused on achieving the best outcomes towards a patient-centred system that’s committed to patient outcomes,” says Glennie.

It has already identified loopholes and issues in the existing system and provided vital information to clinicians around reporting, caregivers and signs and symptoms.


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