Health Games - a contemporary approach to health education in Kenya



The World Health Organization estimates that inadequate health competencies are responsible for three to five percent of a country’s health expenditure. In Germany, this would be 9 to 15 billion Euros. It can be assumed that in African countries, health literacy can play an even more crucial role than in countries with well-established healthcare systems.


In Kenya, NCDs contribute to over 50% of inpatient admissions and 40% of hospital deaths and so NCDs consume a substantial proportion of the health-care budget taking away funds from other development needs.


The solution:


86% Kenyans use the Internet, 21 Million (45%) have permanent access through smartphones.

Conclusion: Using mobile networks to reach out and engage people directly in competitive educational games for overcoming lack of knowledge, prevailing health myths and unhealthy traditions.

  • Fostering knowledge and overcoming prevailing health myths and unhealthy traditions

  • Unprecedented reach with mobile networks and smart phones

  • Un-filtered and non-biased direct communication with the target population

  • High engagement levels through competitive and incentivized educational games in team based mobile knowledge tournaments.

  • Real time measured impact with psychometrics for better learner/gamer coaching and more efficient learning.

  • Through continuous gaming harvesting big data on knowledge and attitude development and providing collective anonymous knowledge analytics for interventions based on facts.

Business model:

  • Adding a significant value to educational and training systems currently driving blind with no real impact measuring capabilities.

  • A licensed gaming and analytics platform as a managed service for the educational and capacity building sector and for corporate compliance programs.

  • Caring, Insuring, Preventing! HealthGames becomes integrated into a scalable health ecosystem combining healthcare, health insurance and prevention.

  • Partnerships for scaling up and enhancing existing programs of stakeholders in the capacity building sector, e.g. GIZ, John Snow Inc. USA, GFA Group Germany, KfW, Reproductive Health Supply Coalition, The Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), etc.

Current status:


Pilot project in 2017


1600 young adults in Nairobi and Kisumu competed against each other and in teams in mobile multiple choice knowledge tournaments on NCDs and Reproductive Health over six weeks in October/November 2017.

  • One million possible answers were reflected by the gamers;

  • more than 244.000 serious questions were answered;

  • mobile learning tips for better winning changes were studied.

Analytics software was applied for better coaching of learners and precise impact measurement.



Roll-out in 2018/2019:

  • Establishing a systemic approach by integrating Health Games as a prevention tool in the health ecosystems „caring, insuring, preventing“ together with Merck, Allianz, NEXtCARE and John Snow Inc.

  • Partnerships with industry and roll-out to other sectors and topics, e.g. agriculture.

  • Building a digital Health Knowledge Observatory for governments, donors and the health sector.

Facts/lessons learned:

Compared with traditional ways of capacity building Health Games could achieve cost efficiency with an unprecedented reach and engagement level through using mobile networks and a “serious gaming” approach.

An elaborate game dramaturgy staged with highlights, social media actions and weekly/monthly incentives for individuals and teams became important for the gaming retention rate.


Real time performance measurement based on psychometrics became crucial for just in time learner/gamer coaching and for performance improvements


The secure learning environment and anonymity on a personal smartphone was noted by the gamers as an important condition for getting engaged in highly sensitive health issues.


Expected impact:


Improved health consciousness, higher patient retention rates, healthier lifestyles, improved capacity building and compliance for professionals.

The impact will be further measured in studies with various target groups.

The team:

SNTL Publishing, Berlin; Merck, Darmstadt, Allianz, NEXtCARE, John Snow Inc, Nairobi


For further information visit the Health games webpage.

For background information on Health games click here

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