Startups And Tech Players On The Frontline Against COVID-19 In Africa
Startups and private tech players have come to the fore in the combat against COVID-19 pandemic. World over, the active collaboration between organizations and governments and the ingenious, cost-effective and efficient solutions developed by tech companies and non-profits are helping in swiftly tracing the reach of the pathogen, making visualizations for identifying hotspots, ensuring better decision- making and above all empowering people.
In Africa, which has a stark digital divide and woefully insufficient health infrastructure, tech startups are giving the necessary boost to governments’ efforts. Their proactive approach and wide outreach are playing a big role in mitigating the situation. Let’s have a look at the various ways through which tech players are contributing in checking the spread of the virus.
Web platforms/ apps
In Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country, a company named Wellvis has invented a COVID-19 Triage Tool that helps users assess themselves for infection and get to know their level of risk, on the basis of their past record and exposure history. Based on the responses they get, users will be either provided remote medical counsel or redirected to the nearest health facility. At a time of mass anxiety and panic, where every minute counts in saving lives, the tool has eased the extra burden on the country’s disease control helplines.
Redbird, an e-health startup in Ghana, has also activated a COVID-19 tracker that enables users to test and report symptoms without going to a healthcare centre. The app also provides information to public health officials so that they can map and analyze the outbreak.
South Africa’s Department of Health has created a WhatsApp helpline with the assistance of WHO and Praekelt, a non-profit organization that uses mobile technology for the betterment of the poor. Users are required to save the helpline number in their phones, following which they can send any queries and receive automated responses immediately. The data is updated with information from local and global news outlets as well as the latest WHO briefing in order to provide real-time updates. The service reached to over 10 million users in less than a week.