Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Healthy Learners, a NGO founded by Lonnie Hackett (cohort 2017-18) helps Zambian government to shape education policies and guidelines for COVID-19.

School children with the text: Improving children's health through schools. Because every child deserves the right to health - and a bright future © Healthy Learners website
Healthy Learner's website banner image

Lonnie Hackett (cohort 2017-18)  founded Healthy Learners to support health and learning of school children. Healthy Learners has established a school-based community health model to train and support teachers as school health workers (SHW) and directly connect schools with local Ministry of Health (MoH) health facilities to transform schools into access points for child and adolescent healthcare.

They help more than 250k children, as they now support all public primary schools in the capital. The Zambian government has adopted Healthy Learner’s model as national policy through its School Health and Nutrition Guidelines, and they are currently working with the Ministries of Health and Education to scale nationally. 


The lessons I learned during my time at Oxford were critical to the programmatic and policy wins we have achieved.
During the course, I became inspired to transition all of our systems from paper based to digital. We achieved this through working with our tech partner, ThinkMD, to develop an advanced clinical assessment mobile health (mHealth) platform that enables our teacher school health workers to perform accurate and robust clinical assessments and appropriately identify those who are sick, what illnesses they may have, and if they need to be referred to a local MoH clinic. This transition has gone better than I could have imagined, and it has been critical to our ability to successfully scale.
We are able to leverage data collected through the software for user and program monitoring and evaluation, epidemiology monitoring of key diseases, early detection of outbreaks and local response initiatives. We recently were contracted by the CDC and MoH to use this data to transform schools into syndromic surveillance hubs.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Healthy Learners was able to quickly leverage their existing operations and technology to add immediate and direct value to the Zambia Government in supporting primary schools, school-aged children, teachers, and proximate primary care clinics. 

COVID-19 specific content was added to their information dissemination to SHWs, trainings, and clinical assessment technology. 

They optimised the existing data analytics activities to fully realize the concept of public schools as population health and have been implementing monitoring activities alongside the Zambian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education since April. 


When the President of Zambia announced in mid-May that schools were to re-open on the first of June, the Ministry of Education called upon Healthy Learners to lead the development of their policies and guidelines for COVID-19. 


We are extremely proud that, as a fairly young and small NGO, the government trusted us to help lead them during this critical time. We were recently highlighted alongside the World Food Program by the USAID/UNICEF supported Child Health Task Force for our work on COVID-19.
It is safe to say that we have made more progress and are having a larger impact sooner than I ever could have imagined. The course on IHTM expanded my thinking, broadened my perspective and enhanced the tools a skills in my repertoire to lead the organization during this critical time. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity. 


Similar stories

Host blood transcriptomic biomarkers of tuberculosis disease in people living with HIV: a systematic review protocol

Simon Mendelsohn (cohort 2015-16) co-authored this systematic review protocol on the current triage and predictive tools and how host tuberculosis transcriptomic biomarkers may be more effective for a correct diagnosis.

Longitudinal Dynamics of a Blood Transcriptomic Signature of Tuberculosis

Simon Mendelsohn (cohort 2015-16) co-authored this article.

Meeting report: Virtual Global Forum on Tuberculosis Vaccines, 20–22 April 2021

Simon Mendelsohn (cohort 2015-16) co-authored this article on the Global Forum on Tuberculosis (TB) Vaccines and how this year's event focussed on opportunities and challenges for TB vaccine R&D during a pandemic.

Delays in presentation of intussusception and development of gangrene in Zimbabwe

Student Dennis Mazingi (cohort 2020-2021) co-authored this paper focused on the importance of a prompt diagnosis and treatment of intussusception in Zimbabwe. Their findings highlight the need to improve early diagnosis of intussusception and prompt referral of patients for treatment.

Safety and immunogenicity of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in HIV infection: a single-arm substudy of a phase 2/3 clinical trial

Sandra Adele (cohort 2020-2021) co-authored this paper on the efficacy of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine for the 40 million people globally living with HIV. This study aimed to assess the vaccine’s ability to stimulate an immune response on those who have their immunity compromised.

Alumna Parinda Wattanasri (cohort 2019-2020) talks about vaccine passports in Thailand Today

Alumna Parinda Wattanasri (cohort 2019-2020) was interviewed by Thailand Today on vaccine passports. and how they may become a sustainable plan to reopening Thailand.