Aga Khan screening tool makes Covid-19 detection easier

Tuesday May 26 2020

The Aga Khan Hospital chief executive officer

The Aga Khan Hospital chief executive officer in Dar es Salaam, Sisawo Konteh 

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam. Tanzanians can now easily and safely evaluate Covid-19 symptoms with an in-home screening tool, thanks to a new initiative by the Aga Khan Health Services and Aga Khan University (AKU).

The two organisations have launched a new mobile app for android and iPhone that allows people to evaluate Covid-19 symptoms with an in-home screening tool - and, thus, help them to understand the next steps in looking after their well-being.

Simply named CoronaCheck, the app can be downloaded free of cost.

Developed by the Digital Health Resource Centre of the Aga Khan Development Network, the app is an effort to support government efforts to reduce spread of the contagion.

The Aga Khan Hospital chief executive officer in Dar es Salaam, Sisawo Konteh, said the biggest part of the Covid-19 pandemic challenges was changing the way people think about the disease.

“With this app, you can quickly detect your symptoms and self-report for medical attention and testing to overcome the fear, anxiety, myths and stigma through the innovative digital app. The platform will help in re-envisioning, and drive change on how we can take control over our health and lives during the pandemic,” he said.

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The app uses an interactive chatbot. Driven by Artificial Intelligence, it allows users to understand their symptoms, recognise whether they may have contracted Covid-19 - and seek help in a timely manner.

It also aims to identify potential coronavirus carriers, and limit their risk of transmission. The app also lists the national help lines available for easy reference.

The tool has been adopted from the Alberta Health Services, and was modified to meet local conditions and the evolving epidemiology of the disease.

AKU’s Technology Innovation Support Centre (TISC) created the technological expertise for developing the app.

TISC director Saleem Sayani said CoronaCheck provides an opportunity to reduce the burden on health systems.

He said TISC’s initial findings suggest that only 19 percent of users required immediate testing and medical assistance.

“This leads to a considerable decrease in the number of visits to health facilities - thereby ensuring that critical resources such as testing kits and health workers’ time are allocated and directed to those most in need,” he said.

CoronaCheck also seeks to tackle myths and misconceptions by featuring educational videos on combating the increasing amount of unverified information circulating on social media platforms.

It also includes authentic information on best practices to protect oneself from contagion, advice on self-assessment, as well as precautions and guidances on physical distancing recommended by World Health Organization and national Health ministries.

CoronaCheck can be downloaded from Google, Play Store or Apple App Store.