Even though most African countries are perceived to be far behind the rest of the world in the use of information technology there are many innovative technological solutions which work very well in the context of Africa. The novel coronavirus has inspired the creation and deployment of simple technologies in many African countries as public health tools.
APPs and Web-based Solutions
In Nigeria, the COVID-19 triage tool created by Wellvis has enabled the people to assess their coronavirus risk category. The tool obtains answers from users on symptoms and exposure history. Based on the answers, it provides medical advice or directs them to the nearest health facilities for proper care. In Ghana, a COVID-19 tracker was created by Redbird, a startup. It enables users to report symptoms to health authorities without leaving their homes. Authorities have indicated that the app has boosted testing and tracing contacts and treating cases.
In South Africa, the popular chat service, WhatsApp, is being used to run a chatbot which responds to queries about the myths, symptoms and treatment of Covid-19 to users. Users find it straightforward and easy to understand. Additionally, Coronapp, a new app, centralizes information flow about the pandemic and curbs the spread of fake news and the anxiety it creates among people. These apps and web-based solutions have taken a lot of pressure off the hotlines that have been provided for providing information.
Finally, Rwanda has commissioned robots as part of the national fight against covid-19. Their use is expected to minimize the risk of infections among health workers by carrying out temperature checks, keeping medical records of covid-19 patients and monitoring the status of patients.
Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana in collaboration with Incas Diagnostics, a diagnostic facility in Kumasi has developed a rapid diagnostic test kit for the testing samples for the coronavirus. Its design is similar to that of the home pregnancy test kit. According to the Public Relations Officer of KNUST, the kits are capable of identifying even asymptomatic patients of covid-19 which the imported test kits are not capable of doing. The test results could be ready in 20 minutes. This will boost the current testing capacity of the Ghanaian authorities.
In Senegal, using the experience gathered from fighting HIV/AIDS and Ebola, early detection strategies were implemented and local researchers were mobilized to tackle the challenge. Researchers are currently testing a $1 Covid-19 testing kit. It is expected that the test can give results in 10 minutes. The plan is to distribute the tests across Africa by June 2020 if the trials are successful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frederick Courage Agamah is the Operations Manager for AfroScience Network.
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