Makerere University unveils its latest innovation, a covid-19 tracing app

Researchers at Makerere University have developed a mobile application in a bid to automate most of the processes involved in the investigation, case and contact tracing for COVID-19 in communities. Makerere University unveils its latest innovation in a virtual launch, a COVID-19 tracing application that will help to contain the spread of the coronavirus in communities by making processes more efficient.

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Makerere University unveils its latest innovation to enhance decision making

Makerere University unveils its latest innovation under a project called C-19 with funding from Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF) in partnership with Child and Family Foundation Uganda, and the Ministry of Health. Through investigating COVID-19 contact tracing, reporting findings in real-time, and proper decision making, the efficiency of COVID-19 response and capture of community feedback will improve with this mobile application.

The creation of this application was inspired by current challenges like travelling long distances for hours in order to gather information on suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, delays in communication and responses, loss of contact lists and transcription errors as stated by the Project lead, Dr. Harriet Babikako.

She further explained in a zoom session on 30th March 2021, “Currently, Community surveillance teams have to trek distances for hours to go and find information from suspected or even confirmed cases. Therefore, challenges such as incomplete identification of contacts, delays in communication, and response, loss of contact lists, inadequate data collection, and transcription errors exist, making the system slow, and inefficient. Thus information exchange between involved parties is too slow and expensive because, by the time a response is generated, the disease is spreading. This means the spreading of COVID-19 is not solved efficiently.”

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The application that took 6 months to build was developed with the ability to attend to the needs of different groups of people in the community like school going students. It will encourage health workers within schools to take the right measure when it comes to screening students and take proper precautions for suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.

Haron Gichuhi a health informant and Co-Investigator of the project said, “Now that schools are open, School nurses can use the application to carry out tests and refer students to nearest laboratories within their proximity. The application also gives the students their COVID-19 status and advises them on preventive methods like self-isolation.”

How the C-19 app works

The C-19 mobile contact tracing app includes various COVID-19 self-assessment components on its Epi -COVID Tracer Dashboard as part of its features. This allows the app user to screen themselves or others using various prompts. The application also includes COVID-19 Laboratories and hospitals, all authorized by the Ministry of Health. Private Doctors and Counsellors can be consulted on the App via WhatsApp or other call options.

One can fill a lab looking form that locates the test centre near you in order to book for you a COVID-19 test from the nearest authorized laboratories. In addition, it also enables different user’s right from Community, VHTs District Task Force DTF and National Task Force NFT by filling the contact tracing form.

The application is designed with a unique platform that enables quick decision making, quick scanning of information, case management and peer checking for other colleagues as special qualities ingrained in the application.

Mr. Ezekiel Musasizi from Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Makerere University, (Co-investigator) says the application will be improved with time to cater to different people in society through translating it into different languages.

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