Self-check app to branch out in Africa
A FREE app that lets patients do quick health check-ups on themselves is the centrepiece of a Gates Foundation-backed project to bring better care to poor regions of Africa, Asia and South America.
The medical app, also receiving funding from the Swiss-based Fondation Botnar, will be the first of its kind available in Swahili, and will also be offered free in Romania, tech start-up Ada Health Gmbh said this week.
The project with Botnar will open up Ada’s artificial-intelligence-enabled health advice to at least 2 million people in areas with little access to hospitals and providers.
Poor countries around the globe are suffering from severe shortages of healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organisation, with the most severe challenges in Africa.
Ada’s software is designed to help patients determine whether they need care and put them in touch with nearby services when they’re required, relieving pressure on health systems.
“It helps you get a better idea of the medical condition that’s causing symptoms, and then helps you make an informed decision about the next steps,” said Daniel Nathrath, Ada’s co-founder and chief executive.
“In Tanzania, often the best option will be to find out where the closest community health worker is.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s richest charity, with $51 billion (R750bn) in endowment assets as of the end of last year.
While it didn’t give the size of the foundation’s support, Ada said it would use funding from Gates and Botnar to hire staff for the projects.
Ada will also research how selfcheck-ups powered by AI can support healthcare in developing countries, with an emphasis on preventing potentially deadly epidemics.
The software will be customised for certain countries by collecting data on the prevalence of diseases, like malaria, that are more common in the developing world, Nathrath said.
Critics charge that the effectiveness of such apps remains uncertain by traditional scientific standards. |