A UKZN PhD study conducted by Dr Elizabeth M Joseph-Shehu identified health promotion as key in the control and prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs); leading to the development of an Android mobile application that can enhance healthcare promotion amongst university workers.

Through the study, which was supervised by Professor Busisiwe Ncama, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Heath Sciences, Joseph-Shehu developed the Tertiary Staff Health Promotion App (TASHePA), a nurse-client interactive app used by nurses employed at universities to monitor the health of staff and plan health promotion interventions on a needs basis. The app is available on Google Play.

Titled: Developing an Integrated Technology-Moderated Institutional Health Promotion Model for University staff in Nigeria, the study commenced with a systematic review of the health-promoting lifestyle profile of workers, followed by a critical review of a health-promoting lifestyle of university staff and a scoping review on health-promoting lifestyle practices and information and communication technology (ICT).

Joseph-Shehu found ICT as a means to enhance and maintain health-promoting lifestyle behaviour and health status amongst workers. ‘Health-promoting lifestyle behaviour has been found to improve individual quality of life and increase life expectancy. Health-promoting lifestyle behaviour also has a link with non-communicable diseases that have high mortality and morbidity rates globally,’ she said.

Joseph-Shehu said the study demonstrated that the app enhances health-promoting lifestyle behaviours and improves the health status of workers. ‘To inculcate habitual health-promoting lifestyle behaviour among the country’s population, government, institutions and health professionals needs a change in emphasis and practice as many healthcare systems still focus more on curative management than on preventive measures,’ she said.

Joseph-Shehu’s future plans include working with health management organisations for organised health promotion and prevention strategies for their members. ‘I would also like to work with stakeholders to develop policy and protocol for healthy universities in Nigeria,’ she added.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal