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Top Health Care Apps Made By Africans

Izunna Okpala

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Leading academics, CIOs, regulators, NGOs, service providers, and EduTech entrepreneurs will convene at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on the 17th of March 2016 for the upcoming 2016 Education Innovation Summit.

Healthcare and technology executives will convene at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, today for the African Innovator Healthcare Summit. The Summit will address the theme – “Transforming Healthcare with Technology.”

Africa is constantly evolving, and with it so is the healthcare and technology sector.

From location based mobile applications that allow users to find the closest health center… to identifying counterfeit medication, We’ve has highlighted some of the top healthcare apps for Africa below.

Top Health Care Apps

Find-A-Med
Featured in the IT News Africa top mobile apps made in Africa feature, Find-A-Med is a location based mobile application that allows users to find the closest health center. Additionally, the app also stores your basic health information in case of an emergency. The app aims to make all healthcare facilities across Nigeria accessible and searchable from a mobile device.

Kids First Aid
As Africa is a connected continent, first aid tips are at the tap of an app. The Kids First Aid app gives emergency information to parents and teachers when they need it- an indispensable app for when you are travelling in a place where perhaps you don’t speak the language or when help is not easily reachable. The app was built in South Africa and won the 2013 MTN Business App award for best windows app.

Hello Doctor
Hello Doctor provides free essential healthcare information that is updated on a daily basis. The app also provide access to healthcare advice, answers to health-related questions in live group chat forums, confidential one-on-one text conversation with a doctor, and the ability to receive a call back from a doctor within 60 minutes.

The app is currently available in 10 African countries and features various language options. Additionally, Hello Doctor has been designed  to work with most mobile phone models. Download Hello Doctor from the official website

MomConnect
MomConnect is a National Department of Health (NDoH) initiative to use cellphone SMS technology to register every pregnant woman in South Africa. The app is essentially managed by the Department of Health with funds provided by the United States government and Johnson & Johnson. Once registered ,the system will send each mother messages to support her and her baby during the course of her pregnancy, childbirth and up to the child’s first birthday.

According to the NDoH, MomConnect aims to strengthen demand and accountability of Maternal and Child Health services in order to improve access, coverage and quality of care for mothers and their children in the community. Visit the official website here.

Smart Health App
The Smart Health App focuses on providing accurate baseline information resource on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. The app is currently available in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, and Senegal.

Additionally, future releases will include information on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Nutrition, Hygiene, Non-communicable diseases. The app also features a range of language options, which includes: English, French, Portuguese and Swahili. Download the Smart Health App here.

Matibabu
Developed in Uganda by team Code8, Matibabu is a smartphone app that assists patients to diagnose malaria without providing a blood sample. Using a custom-made piece of hardware (matiscope), custom made piece of hardware which consists of a red LED and a light sensor. A finger is inserted into the device to diagnose and the results are viewed via a smartphone. Visit the official website here.

MedAfrica
MedAfrica was launched by Kenyan developers, Shimba Technologies. According to the developers, MedAfrica essentially acts as a clinic in your pocket. The app can be used to diagnose and monitor symptoms caused by diseases.

Additionally, the app also provides the user with a directory of doctors and hospitals close by as well as provides information on potential treatment for diseases. To add to the features the app can also be used to identify counterfeit medication and a direct a user to the nearest doctor or hospital. Download the app here.

DrBridge
Residents in Egypt can use the DrBridge in order to make appointments with a doctor online via Vezeeta. Alternatively, doctors can use the very same app to obtain a patients’ medical records. The records are stored online, for easy access by the doctor. Visit the official website here.

Ubenwa
Charles Onu is the principal innovator behind Ubenwa, a digital health initiative which applies machine learning and mobile technology to provide portable, affordable, and reliable diagnosis of birth asphyxia.

mPedigree
As mentioned by Zuby Onwuta who is the CEO ThinkandZoom, mPedigree is a phone-based anti-counterfeit ICT software application – which allows users to verify the authenticity of medication. According to the app developer, this is done for free by text-messaging a unique code found on the product to a universal number. The system helps to tackle the problem of counterfeit medicine by partnering with different pharmaceutical to create a short code on the package of products.

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Apps & Services

Coronavirus: The Covid Tracker software from Ireland is out

Izunna Okpala

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Ireland’s just-released contact-tracing app this morning, where it joined Germany’s Corona Warn-App, which was released three weeks ago.

Gibraltar recently released its Beat Covid Gibraltar app, based on the Irish code.

The Republic’s Covid Tracker software is also the foundation of an app. Northern Ireland is promising to release within weeks. And now there’s a hint Wales could go the same way.

The focus henceforth would be on building a “decentralised” app with the toolkit offered by Apple and Google, which is also being used by Germany and Ireland among a growing list of others.

On Monday, Baroness Harding gave evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee alongside Simon Thompson, the Ocado executive she drafted in to take responsibility for the app.

Mr Thompson started by saying how urgent it was to get the job done. He went on to stress that collaboration with other countries and with Google and Apple meant that “we have growing confidence that we will have a product that will be good, so that the citizens can trust it in terms of its basic functionality”.

Bluetooth doubts

Now it is true that there is very little evidence that Bluetooth-based apps have so far been successful in tracking down people who came close to someone diagnosed with the virus.

People who point to the success of countries like South Korea ignore the fact that its efforts have been based not on Bluetooth but on the use of mass surveillance data, which would almost certainly prove unacceptable here.

Scientists at Trinity College in Dublin who advised the Irish app development team have produced a number of studies showing Bluetooth can be a very unreliable way to log contacts.

After tests on a bus they warned “the signal strength can be higher between phones that are far apart than phones close together, making reliable proximity detection based on signal strength hard or perhaps even impossible”.

‘Good enough’

Germany has celebrated the fact that in three weeks its app has been downloaded by 15 million people out of a population of 83 million. But there is little or no information about whether it is performing well in its core mission of contact tracing.

Then again, countries like Germany, Ireland and Switzerland have taken the view that an app does not have to be technically perfect, and that if there is any chance of it making even a small contribution to the battle against the virus, it’s worth a go.

Countries like Germany might be tempted to point out that they have had that “cake” in the form of an effective manual tracing programme all along. Incidentally, if public trust is vital to the app’s rollout, the people of the Isle of Wight may have something to say about that.

Following the trial of the original, scrapped NHSX app on the island, some residents have been asking what will happen to their data. We’ve asked too – and have yet to receive an answer.

While the Covid Tracker app has been launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the Republic of Ireland, people living across the border in Northern Ireland are able to download it and use it.

Its terms and conditions state that it is intended to be used by anyone living in or visiting the island of Ireland.

They also state that its availability for people living or visiting in Northern Ireland “is intended to help us to inform people living in border areas and to trace cases in those areas”.

Anyone using the app in NI is able to activate the contact tracing facility and can also self-report symptoms using the “Covid Check-In section”.

However, in the section which asks users to enter personal details, including gender and age-range, those living in Northern Ireland can’t add their county of residence. Only counties in the Republic of Ireland are listed – not the six in NI.

It isn’t yet clear what impact this has on the functionality of the app for NI users.

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Apps & Services

The Adoption rate of the Apple-Google COVID-19 tracker feature in Nigeria

Izunna Okpala

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The COVID-19 exposure tracker has recently been rolled out by Google and Apple on every Android and iOS device globally. According to the notice released in May, this was done in an effort to fight the spread of the virus through contact tracing — a technique used to stay aware of exposure to an infected person.

When enabled, the feature allows your Smartphone to receive notification of likely COVID-19 exposure.

However, there is a disclaimer that the software is an API that can only be enabled when the device has installed a third party tracking app.

According to the statement, the feature will remain dormant until it is activated by a COVID-19 contact tracing app, which can be deactivated at any time.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature cannot be activated without an installed contact tracing app

Google and Apple therefore say that the devices won’t be theirs thus saying that the identity of the user won’t be shared with other users.

To ensure this, Google announced that “Access to technology will only be provided to public-health users. Their applications must meet strict Privacy, Protection and Data Use requirements.”

Still, app creators should be committed to minimise the vulnerabilities of their products.

On Android phones, the feature can be found in ‘Google‘ under ‘Settings‘ where ‘COVID-19 exposure notification‘ is displayed. For Apple devices, ‘COVID-19 exposure logging‘ is found under ‘Health‘ in ‘Privacy settings‘.

Apple-Google COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature

By design, this technology is meant to support the efforts of governments and private players that are building contact tracing apps. When an app is used to opt in, it generates randomly changing IDs based on location. Through Bluetooth, it periodically checks other IDs to confirm if any is associated with the infection. And if it finds any, it sends a notification.

For this to work, a person who is affected or has been exposed to the infection needs to share their IDs with the app, which will immediately alert all that have come in contact with them.

While countries like India make contact tracing apps compulsory for residents, only a few startups have made an attempt at this technology in Nigeria; this explains why adoption is low.

In fact, on the Google Playstore, there’s currently no authorised contact tracing app available in the country currently. Conversely, on the Apple app store, it shows two apps, one of which has already been disabled.

Despite some countries already putting the pandemic behind them, infection cases are unfortunately still increasing across Nigeria. Currently, the figure stands at 25,694, with Lagos state  — 10,510 confirmed cases — still the epicentre.

As economic activities resume fully in states that were previously on mandatory lockdown, this appears to be the time for the adoption of massive contact tracing tools to reduce citizens’ chances of infection.

Recall that before now the use of smartphone tracking and surveillance for COVID-19 tracing have been adopted across the world in China, Hong Kong, Israel, and even in Rwanda.

But there are concerns that this feature has privacy risks, disproving Google and Apple’s promise. Considering past events, this scepticism is not misplaced.

Google, like other tech giants, has at some point been accused of turning user data into narrowly targeted ads without consent. This is often possible because users are usually unaware of the data they are agreeing to share and the company’s plan for the information.

While these privacy concerns remain, we cannot undermine the possible positive impact of the tools this Apple-Google feature will effectively support. Perhaps, it is a case of choosing the lesser evil.

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General News

COVID-19: An update on the success of Coronavirus treatment

Izunna Okpala

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There is hope in the fight against Covid-19. New evidence now exist in the United States of America supporting this procedure. Physicians in the Kansas City area, including Joe Brewer, Dan Hinthorn and Dr. Jeff Colyer, continue to see a lot of patients and some have shown progress. Hydroxychloroquine has been applied to treatment options by major medical facilities including the University of Washington and Mass General.

In addition, before this, according to a study conducted by French researchers on 80 cases who recovered from the virus within six days of treatment, a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has been found effective in treating patients with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory medication used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, although it has been tested against symptoms of the novel coronavirus with some results.

Bahrain is one of the first countries to study hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 medication, having first used the drug on 26 February, two days after the first case of coronavirus was reported.

Countries around the world are increasing access to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, similar compounds that are synthetic versions of quinine, which derive from cinchona trees and have been used to treat malaria for decades.

Considering the urgent therapeutic need to control this disease with efficient and safe medicines, and considering the negligible cost of both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, we believe that this therapeutic approach should be tested urgently by medical practitioners both to prevent the spread of the disease and to treat patients until serious irreversible respiratory complications.

Even now, medical experts are still questioning the use of chloroquine as a drug. Usage of chloroquine for symptomatic treatment of coronavirus has not been licensed by the World Health Organisation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently researching a way to make the drug available for emergency use in the United States, but in a way that gives the government data about whether it is safe and effective.

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