South Africa


Public Health

Type of Investment


Project Stage

Test & Transition

Length of Investment


Investment Overview

GIF awarded a grant of $500,000 to Praekelt and IDinsight for their work on HealthConnect for COVID. HealthConnect for COVID is a suite of mobile tools to allow users to access timely and accurate information and seek advice based on their personal circumstances and symptoms, while producing a large volume of data which can be utilised to inform government decision making in response to the pandemic.


The Development Challenge

South Africa has been particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: the number of positive cases identified exceeded 1.52 million by 9th March 2021. The scale of the pandemic has put huge pressures on health services and has disrupted the ability of vulnerable populations, such as those living with TB and HIV/AIDs, to safely access care. As with other governments, communicating effectively with citizens and challenging myths and misinformation has been a challenge in South Africa, as has accessing and utilising timely data on the incidence of symptoms to inform policy response.


The Innovation

HealthConnect for COVID is an innovation developed by South African non-profit, Praekelt, and has been a key tool for the National Department of Health’s (NDOH) response. It comprises two components, HeathAlert and HealthCheck, that both use mobile technology to provide access to citizens. Via HealthAlert, citizens can request the most up to date information on Covid-19 from a trusted and reliable source, and via HealthCheck they can undertake a risk assessment based on their symptoms, and receive tailored advice depending on their circumstance. Over 20 million people are using HealthAlert around the world including through the WHO, with 8 million of these users based in South Africa.


Our Investment

This investment aims to better understand how users' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours are influenced by using HealthConnect, which can generate feedback loops to improve communications in the future. It will also seek to maximise the potential of the data collected, including citizens’ self-reported data, to generate insights to improve the government’s response to the pandemic. This investment will generate new learning on the potential of mass communication tools and self-reported health information.


Why we invested

The innovation has phenomenal reach across the world, with 8 million users in South Africa.

HealthConnect is an official government programme, delivered by the South African NDOH, with significant interest in using the full potential of this technology in the Covid-19 response.

This innovation builds on Praekelt’s experience in the digital health space in South Africa through its flagship maternal health programme, MomConnect, delivered in partnership with NDOH.

The partnership with IDinsight brings deep expertise in monitoring and evaluation, data visualisation, and data science to ensure that the potential of the innovation is fully understood and explored.

The planned data outputs under this grant will be produced in response to requests from the National Department of Health on the areas of highest importance and urgency.

GIF believes that learning from this grant will have implications for the potential of self-reported health information at scale, and that it will further the understanding of government-citizen interface initiatives.


HealthConnect for COVID in numbers

1.52 million

Positive Covid-19 cases in South Africa by early 2021


GIF Grant


Healthonnect Completion Report