Rheumatic Heart Disease Project in Kenya Tests WiRED Training Program


Students learning about RHD.


Kenyan Researchers Weigh in on RHD Project

By Duncan Matheka and Mellany Murgor; edited by
Shawn Ghuman


Our work with WiRED began while we were looking for training materials for rheumatic heart disease (RHD) patient clubs in Kenya. We sought to use an accurate, easy-to-understand module to create awareness and educate the very target groups that are affected. Since there is a high prevalence of RHD among Kenyan children and its complications and long-term effects can be serious, it was imperative to show that RHD can be easily prevented.


Due to the experiments done with WiRED International, we learned that the use of their interactive digital modules to train school children on RHD not only creates awareness and increases knowledge but is also feasible, efficacious and sustainable.


The WiRED module is interactive, and uses colorful animations. The pupils are asked questions and get applauded for every correct answer, which motivates them to learn. By educating children, the entire family and society will benefit. Most children tell their friends and families what they learn, thus spreading the message further. This approach could potentially reduce the toll of RHD.


Presently, the modules are already being distributed to some schools that have computers, and the Kenyan government plans to introduce laptops in all primary schools. By training teachers on how to use the interactive module, it is possible for large numbers of children to be taught in schools.



Duncan Matheka is a final year medical student at the University of Nairobi, and the African Representative of Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network.



Mellany Murgor is a fourth year medical student at the University of Nairobi, and the Kenyan Delegate of Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network.




Test Yourself

Click here to test your knowledge about Rheumatic Heart Disease by answering these five questions.


From WiRED's RHD Training for Students module.


WiRED Health Education
Learning Portal



heumatic heart disease (RHD) is the most common heart disease in children and young adults in developing countries, including Kenya. As a preventable disease, its occurrence may be significantly reduced by educating the community on preventive measures.


In an effort to assess the effectiveness of interactive computer education programs to instruct school-age children about RHD, a group of medical students from the University of Nairobi carried out a study using an interactive digital module created by WiRED International.


Final year medical student Duncan Matheka, aided by his collaborator, fourth year medical student Mellany Murgor, directed the project’s study, which involved both a treatment and a control group. Gary Selnow, Ph.D. coordinated the study from WiRED’s side and William Crano, Ph.D., from Claremont Graduate University, facilitated the data analysis. The RHD module was funded under a major grant from Medtronic Philanthropy.


WiRED medical staff developed the RHD training module, based on material from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other authoritative sources. The module offers simplified animated presentations linking sore throat, rheumatic fever and RHD, and, further, it describes prevention measures. The module introduces questions throughout the presentation and provides instant feedback to reinforce key concepts.


The research focuses on two key questions, both essential to assessing the effectiveness of using interactive computer programs to teach young people about RHD:

  1. Do students successfully learn central concepts related to RHD from this computer program?
  2. Do students retain the information they learned from the program after a week has passed?

The findings shed light on both questions. First, the RHD training module effectively taught students about RHD. Students who reviewed the computer program performed significantly better than the control group. Second, they retained the information they learned. Students came back a week later and took a knowledge test, and their recall of RHD details was nearly identical to their initial test taken immediately after going through the module.


What did we find out from this study? The RHD modules are an effective means of presenting critical health information to students. Students learn from the modules and they retain the information they’ve learned.


A future study will determine whether modules are better than other learning methods. For now the RHD module will be distributed in Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya. Dr. Selnow said, “It is clear from this study that these interactive digital modules significantly increase knowledge about RHD among school children, and this suggests they can potentially reduce the RHD toll. Knowledge is especially critical in reducing the spread of an illness where prevention is so critical.”



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