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Kenya: Medical Language Translation App Wins University Students’ Coding Competition


Nairobi — An innovation by four university students that translates the local dialect into English or Kiswahili to make it easier for doctors to diagnose patients’ symptoms remotely has emerged as the overall winner of the fourth season of the Game of Learners (GOL) competition.

The solution, dubbed ‘Jambo Care,’ was developed by Team Ruby, which beat 16 other teams from universities across Africa to win the season on Friday.

This season’s challenge aimed to develop technological solutions for Africa’s health challenges and featured more than 80 students from 11 African countries, with an equal balance of men and women.

This season, the Microsoft African Development Centre (ADC) partnered with Population Services International (PSI) and AMREF Health Africa in a five-week hackathon to design and build technology solutions that make primary healthcare more accessible to people.

It was informed by the fact that African healthcare systems face several challenges, including inadequate health infrastructure, a shortage of healthcare personnel, limited access to essential medicines, low health literacy, and poor health-seeking behaviour.

This makes it difficult for individuals and communities to receive high-quality care. Increasing access to affordable digital technology provides an opportunity to address these challenges.

Speaking about their innovation, Lucy Alphonce, the Team Ruby captain, said: “Our translator aims to bridge the communication gap whereby the healthcare provider and the recipient don’t have a common language of communication. This will ensure effective healthcare delivery.”

This season of the GOL sought to answer the question of how advances in digital technology can improve consumers’ access to health information, products, and services.

Throughout the season, the three partners provided participants with tailored training on health system challenges, digital health development principles, and how to use insights to advance user-centred designs.

Other topics addressed included customer acquisition for digital health solutions and health financing. In five groups, participants had five weeks to develop solutions, including the most recent advancements in digital health technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, Telemedicine, and Chatbot solutions.

Speaking at the Season Finale, Ruth Ferland, the Regional Head of Student & Community Engagements at Microsoft ADC, said: “As part of this year’s competition, we challenged participants to delve into the healthcare sector, identify a unique challenge, and design a tech-based solution.”