COVID-19 is a disease that originated from coronavirus which was first reported in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. It exhibits symptoms such as fever, dry cough, tiredness, aches, pains, sore throat, shortness of breath, and other lungs-related sicknesses. At the time when this report was written, 11th of May 2020, the image below shows the graphic representation of the mortality rate from the virus around the world and most affected countries. The image was sourced from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre website.
Global Deaths account for 282,947, whilst global recovery is 1,296,603 and total confirmed cases are 4,118,783. The exponential spread of COVID-19 has affected every part of the world through some continents that have been worst hit than the others. Several measures including health and medical workers, vaccine inventions, engineers developing ventilators and protection equipment, different types of lockdown, Information technology, Herbal or traditional medicine development, among others. The role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance public awareness and prevention, surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and coordinate response for COVID-19 has become more significant.
This post will review the adopted ICT intervention during the pandemic in developing countries, particularly, in Nigeria and the improvement of such technology from other parts of the world. The major ICT Interventions are:
- Social Media and Learning Tools: Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp (group), blogs are playing a very important role in creating awareness and providing information about the virus. On the one hand, social media serves as a learning and update platform for many, as several people use this platform to learn about the day-to-day activities of several national health agencies. However, some educational institutions are adopting other specific e-learning platforms to teach their students, whilst at staying home. The Nigerian government broadcasts using the National Television (NTA) for homeschooling for the general public, however, its effectiveness has not been verified.
- Websites and Dashboards: during the pandemic, Nigeria has been adopting websites and dashboards to provide information on the number of tested samples, confirmed cases, recovered, discharged, and deaths. The dashboard developed and maintained by John Hopkins University has been the go-to place for information about the global spread of the virus with respect to the detailed data visualization techniques. A snapshot is seen above. While in Nigeria, the NCDC Dashboard is the perfect website to look up, when searching any information regarding Nigeria.
NCDC dashboard on 9th of May 2020 https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/
- Mobile Application: Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, and Skypes are major mobile applications widely used during this crisis in Nigeria. They have been adopted as communication mediums in organisations, businesses, and between friends, and family members. They are specifically used to disseminate information on protection measures against the virus and suggestions on home remedies, which have had both positive and negative reviews. In other parts of the world, several mobile applications have been developed, but they are not applicable in the Nigerian context, or if they are they are not in the mainstream.
- Robots and Drones: disinfectant drones have been seen in some parts of Nigeria, e.g., Ondo state but to the best of my knowledge, the method has not proven to be effective, because of the environment and limited facilities in that state. However, in other parts of the world, many solutions are available from disinfectant drones, robotic harvesters, patient monitors to delivering medical tools, but all these interventions are not available in the country.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): it is still a mirage in Nigeria, it is a trending discussion in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. However, its usage is not yet embraced and adopted. Besides, several machine learning and data analysis algorithms using the AI methodology have been used in data analysis spaces in the country which cannot be compared to other developed countries. AI tools are used in early detection, surveillance, tracking the spread, virtual health assistant, information verification, and analysis. For instance, Huawei has created an AI-based swift diagnosis tool (42) for COVID-19 patients and suspected cases.
- Mobile telecommunication: Nigeria as a country where broadband internet is not yet widespread. However, mobile phones and telecommunication is huge, and it is the most available internet provision mechanism in Nigeria. Many telecommunication businesses are making a lot of money from the use of technology during this period because based on the statistics, many people rely on the internet to communicate with friends and family which has resulted in the increase in users for the telecommunication companies in Nigeria. For instance, MTN reported a 59.2% increase in revenue in the first quarter of the year 2020. According to MTN, data revenue makes up 22.6% of service revenue (N328.5bn), growing 59.2% year-in-year-out in the quarter, and 12.3% from Q4 2019. The growth in data traffic was spurred by 1.7 million active data users and increased 4G users to stand at +130.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020. An additional 4.2 million subscribers were added within the period to up the voice revenue by 7.4%.
Other ICT interventions that are used all over the world but not available in Nigeria:
- wearable technology: Smart Helmet
- Interactive voice Responses: Google Rapid Response Virtual Agent
- IT helpdesk Remote work: BeyondTrust by Bomgar, Teamview
Kindly comment below if you think there are technology interventions not mentioned above.