First diagnostic health app launched in Swahili

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An innovative chat-bot that helps patients and doctors diagnose diseases ranging from malaria to diabetes has become the first health app to launch in Swahili. The Daily Telegraph reports that developed by Ada Health, the app relies on artificial intelligence, large medical databases and personalised responses to assess an individual’s symptoms, suggest a cause and recommend the next stage of treatment.

The smartphone chat-bot is already used by roughly 8m people in more than 130 countries across the globe – published in languages including English, French and Spanish. But it has now become the first AI health application to launch in Swahili, a language spoken by almost 100m people across East Africa – predominantly in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

According to Hila Azadzoy, MD of Ada’s global health initiative, the expansion will help tackle a shortage of doctors and nurses in the region, where countries have fewer than one physician per 1,000 people on average.

The report says the new version of Ada, which is free to download, was developed in collaboration with the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania and the Swiss NGO Fondation Botnar. As well as the Swahili translation, Ada says the app has been adjusted to factor in conditions and symptoms that are more common in East Africa – for instance infectious diseases like malaria and HIV.

“There is a significant healthcare shortage in East Africa and it will be very difficult to address this just by training more health workers and doctors,” said Dr Nahya Salim, head of pediatrics at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar Es Salaam.

Although Ada is also looking to launch localised adaptations of the app in other regions, for instance South Asia, the company said that East Africa was a “good context” because of an existing reliance on mobile technology.

The Daily Telegraph report

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