By Dennis Agbo
AS the fight against COVID-19 intensifies, an unstructured supplementary Service Data, USSD, has surfaced for quick test and possible contact tracing.
Developed by a Nigerian financial technology startup firm, Instant Deposit Limited, the USSD system interacts with the user to capture relevant information, including symptoms and travel history.
The information is processed by the system to notify relevant health authorities including the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC.
The system further advise the user to either stay safe or self-isolate and wait for the authorities to make contact.
Narrating to Vanguard how it works, IDL co-founder, Mr. Ike Ugwu said that the innovative USSD solution helps Nigerians and health authorities to effectively combat COVID-19.
According to Ugwu, the innovation is a public health surveillance and early warning system called HealthRadar.NG that helps both Nigerians and all levels of government combat coronavirus as well as other outbreaks.
“It’s a quick self-test to have an idea of likelihood of Coronavirus. Citizens and residents are to simply dial the USSD code *347*61*2# to answer simple questions in English and other Nigerian languages.The result of every test goes directly to relevant health authorities like NCDC who takes swift action depending on the indication from the test.
“It’s a bank of information where the government can use to trace potential Covid-19 patients, so that they can have a substantive test,” Ugwu explained.
He further disclosed that patent medicine dealers are being accredited to capture symptoms presented by people patronizing them which helps health authorities quickly trace all the potential carriers.
He said that the HealthRadar.NG platform works across all telecom networks, does not require internet service or app download and does not charge money from users.
“We are the ones paying because the core aim of HealthRadar.NG is to provide basic self test to individuals and provide information about any potential carrier for quick response,” Ugwu clarified.
He said that for now the code provides information in English and Hausa language, but is working to include other major Nigerian languages.
Ugwu enjoined the state and local governments, NGOs, businesses and philanthropists to partner with HealthRadar.NG as a cost-effective means to taking testing and contact tracing to every nook and cranny of Nigeria.