Africa’s first-ever continental public health communications platform launched on Tuesday is aimed to provide about 600 million Africans with the latest public health advice, especially on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Africa Communications Information Platform was launched by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and major telecom providers in Africa on Tuesday.
According to the ECA, the newly launched mobile-based initiative “will furnish national and regional COVID-19 task forces with user generated survey data and actionable health and economic insights.”
The newly introduced initiative, by improving national data and statistics, is expected to enable authorities to better analyze pandemic related problems and implement appropriate responses, it was noted.
The platform is also expected to enable national COVID-19 task forces in Africa to deploy health and economic resources to mitigate the pandemic’s impact.
The free to use service harnesses mobile narrowband channels, using a combination of text and voice interactions, it was noted.
On the broadband side, the platform uses public data from digital channels, including online and social media.
The rollout of phase one, starting Tuesday, will cover mobile users across more than 23 African countries, representing about 80 percent of Africa’s total mobile subscribers.
Users will be able to access locally relevant health advisories and medical advice including a symptom checker, it was noted.
Under phase two, which is expected to be launched “in few months’ time,” the service will encompass an additional 20 percent of African mobile users and expand to include economic and humanitarian focused communication, according to the ECA.
When data reveal emerging virus hotspots, the platform will help authorities direct medical resources to the affected areas and alert local inhabitants to their availability, according to the ECA.
Each African country will maintain full ownership and access to its national data, while the ECA will use aggregated data to facilitate regional or continental level analysis and insights into best practices.
According to the latest figures from the Africa CDC, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 315,410 as of Tuesday morning, as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 8,334.