COVID-19 is a change agent. Prior to the outbreak of corona-virus disease (COVID-19) been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) the dispensation of healthcare in Africa has been tied down with diverse issues. The use technology in Africa healthcare has not been taken as a serious issue. Even with the pandemic, there are still lots that could be done while little or nothing is been done.
The virus has now spread to many countries and territories. While a lot is still unknown about COVID-19, what is known is that it is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing).
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, countries are forced to impose measures such as travel bans, prohibition of mass gatherings, mandatory quarantines, closure of learning institution, and borders to curb the pandemic.
Digital technologies have been deployed to facilitate the coordination of these imposed measures. Also, coordinate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The use technology in healthcare in Africa has suddenly been more prominent, at least in African context.
What is used and Where
In Nigeria, health officials are partnering with the messaging service owned by Facebook to send push notifications to users with advice on symptoms and how to avoid infection. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is also getting free ad space on Facebook for outreach about the pandemic, a benefit available to public health authorities.
Rwanda is now using technology to raise awareness against the COVID-19 pandemic. They have added the use of drones which moves around to raise awareness about the disease.
To minimize contact time with confirmed cases and therefore reducing the risk of contamination of health professionals in COVID-19 treatment centres, robots were deployed. At Gatenga and Kanyinya treatment centres in Kigali City, visits by medical staff to patients went from 3-4 to 2 per day since May 2020. The 5 human-size robots are programmed to perform temperature screening, take readings of vitals, deliver video messages and detect people not wearing masks then instruct them to wear masks properly.
The Government of Ghana in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications have launched a new app designed to help in tracing people who have come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals. The app is meant to augment the government’s effort in the fight against the global pandemic
The government of Senegal have developed a site which is available to Senegalese citizens by the Administration through the State Information Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Action to enable them to follow the latest developments of the Covid-19 pandemic and take the necessary preventive measures to fight the virus.
MTN Cameroon has partnered with the Ministry of Public health to support “National Operational Plan for Preparation and Response against COVID-19 in Cameroon 2020” through the following initiatives:
Intensification of Awareness Campaigns. MTN’s network, technologies and digital platforms will be used to disseminate the messages designed by the Ministry of Health to address the crisis.
The Facilitation of Communications by health personnel involved in operations to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Contributing to set up test centres envisaged by the Ministry of Public Health.
Kenya will begin automatic testing of the virus. KEMRI new tech has the capacity to test upto 35,000 samples on a daily basis. They will use the Cobas 6800 or the 8800 HIV viral load machines and the GeneXpert used for point of care testing for tuberculosis.
Kenyatta University Students have developed Ventilator prototype, through their innovation and incubation center in fight against Covid-19.
Eneza Education has partnered with Safaricom to deliver free learning materials by simplest way of mobile phones.
The Department of Health has announced the launch of a new app to alert users in South Africa if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The app, called COVID Alert SA, is a free exposure notification app. By tracking smartphone proximity, the app can warn users who could have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
The National Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology in Tunis, are exploring how digital tools and Artificial Intelligence can play a vital role in containing and overcoming the pandemic.
The question now is, would the African healthcare embrace the use of technologies or it would take another pandemic to to hit harder before healthcare in Africa is enhanced with the technologies which would only save life but improves healthcare delivery across the continent