Africa
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African Influencers For Development 


TIDIANI TOGOLA
AUTOMATED HEALTHCARE ASSISTANT

(Mali)

ASSA (Assistant Sanitaire Automatique) is a “health assistant” app helping in the country’s fight against COVID-19, by providing the public with national news and other information sources that give advice on how citizens can avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. ASSA was developed by Tidiani Togola – a tech and inno-vation maker, who describes himself as a futurist at heart. Tidiani founded Tuwindi in 2015 to support socio-eco-nomic development, good governance, democracy, and the rule of law through ICT. 

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT

The Malian population and Africa in general has low lev-els of literacy and high levels of poverty, yet widespread use of smartphones. The number of doctors and nurses is limited, and healthcare platforms have little funding. For this reason, the population needs to be equipped not with an ordinary mobile app, but rather an Automated Healthcare Assistant based on machine learning, an app, which should also speak to its users in their own languages. ASSA was developed to provide a digital platform and tool, which facilitates people’s access to quality health-care and medical service provision.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF YOUR PRODUCT?

In the current environment, the ASSA platform is being used to help combat the effects of COVID-19 effectively in different ways. One of them is working with the Ministry of Health. The UNDP Office in Mali approached us to help support the Ministry, where we are now providing the ASSA platform’s Dashboard data collection system, mobile app, and the chat bot.

WHAT DIFFICULTIES HAVE BEEN ENCOUNTERED?

The biggest challenge was convincing the Ministry to accept our platform. They originally thought we would just be adding more to their workload. However, this was quickly resolved when they realized how much the ASSA platform speeds up and makes their work easier. However, we had to deal with managing patchy and often incon-sistent data, and this had to be handled so that we didn’t import biased data into the ASSA database. The second challenge was training the chatbot in our national languages. Chatbot engines don’t cover our languages. We had to do it all ourselves. It was also diffi-cult to get the mobile app accepted by App Stores, who consider the functions of our platforms to be a breach of their policies. In addition, the use of the Ministry of Health logo requires a special certificate.

WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU NEED TO SCALE UP ASSA?

We need to expand our development team and process-ing capacity. Of course, this requires significant financial resources and time. We also want to increase ASSA’s linguistic capacity and improve our artificial intelligence engine so that it can cover all of the national languages in West Africa. We need support from partners like UNDP to support not only Mali but also all the other countries going through similar situations. Our mid-term goal is to make ASSA a comprehensive telemedicine tool, and in the long term a tool to support clinical medical research and public health. Using artificial intelligence, ASSA could assist with research and development for new vaccines, as well.

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