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COVID-19 Emergency Information USSD Service

In partnership with our mobile network operator customers, Myriad Connect launches COVID-19 Emergency Information Service over USSD

As citizens all over the world face the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 crisis, keeping people informed is a critical factor in curbing the spread of the disease. In our highly connected world, which is often deluged in impenetrable and conflicting information on the virus, access to accurate and up to date information is a challenge. Throughout Africa, mobile network providers (MNO) have stepped in to meet this challenge, leveraging the high mobile penetration rates to provide access to important information on Coronavirus to their subscribers.

Determined to play our part in supporting efforts in combatting the spread of the virus, the Myriad team developed a special pro-bono COVID-19 Emergency Information Service over USSD. With many of our MNO customers dedicated to supporting their subscribers and government efforts during the crisis, they were keen to partner with Myriad to offer the service free of charge. Working together, in response to the urgent need to have this COVID-19 service up and running, integration with Myriad’s cloud platform and launch of live services was completed within a few days.

Using the USSD channel is a natural choice, in many African markets, for disseminating health information during such a crisis. With low data penetration rates and low smartphone adoption rates, coupled with the sometimes-prohibitive cost of data in markets throughout Africa, using USSD technology provides a ubiquitous and familiar platform for data sharing.

Myriad’s COVID-19 service enables services including:

  • Health and safety recommendations
  • Statistics on confirmed Coronavirus cases and deaths per country or region
  • Symptoms check
  • Emergency contact details

The service and information provided is adaptable to local guidelines and regulations, hereby ensuring that all citizens receive accurate and up to date information on the disease. Information provided is based on World Health Organisation guidelines. Access to this data will help people make informed choices on how to avoid the spread of the virus and will also go some way to helping lessen the burden on the health sector during this demanding time.

It is also essential for the information to be made available in a choice of languages, to ensure the widest possible accessibility for subscribers. Myriad’s development team, for example, had to work on an innovative solution to make Creole available as the default language for the service in Guinea Bissau.

To fight the spread of fake news and to help limit panic, providing up to date statistics on infection rates and deaths in specific countries or regions is also important. The service retrieves data from reputable sources likes the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre to provide this information. John Hopkins obtains its data from global resources, like the World Health Organisation and other regional and local authorities.

The service can also be used to facilitate symptom checking, running through a number of fundamental questions asked of patients to help determine the likelihood of infection.  The subscriber can then access emergency contact numbers or information on where to get tested, if necessary. Where data protection policies are in place and the required permissions are granted by a subscriber, this symptom checker service can also be used by governments to gather data on possible infections or advise on which regions within a country need to be focused on for testing.

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