The World Health Organisation has launched an app to support health workers. Picture: World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation has launched an app to support health workers. Picture: World Health Organisation

World Health Organisation launches app to support healthcare workers

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched an app to support health workers around the world in caring for patients infected by novel coronavirus (Covid-19), as well as to protect themselves as they do this critical work.

The app enables workers to access the WHO’s rapidly expanding bank of educational material and guidance, along with offering opportunities to participate in virtual skills workshops and other live training.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has helped the WHO bring forward the deployment of the app, 12 months ahead of schedule, in response to Covid-19.

The WHO has a Covid-19 "situation dashboard", or interactive map, which gives a daily update on the latest global, and by country, numbers of Covid-19 cases. 

WHO chief information officer Bernardo Mariano said the dashboard has been enhanced with the generous support of tech companies.

“Thanks to support from tech companies, WHO was able to enhance the Covid-19 situation dashboard,” says WHO chief information officer Bernardo Mariano.

“Countries rely on this data to see how well certain interventions are working in other countries, to help them decide whether to do the same.”

AWS is providing automatic web content extraction, expertise in data analytics and processing, and open object storage that enables the retention of large amounts of unstructured information to help the WHO share epidemiological data with its staff, public health bodies, member states, and other health actors around the world, in a timely way.

The WHO’s Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources initiative (EIOS) aims to develop a unified global early warning system, using open source information – such as news articles and reports – to identify, verify and assess potential public health threats.

The EIOS system manages, filters and helps contextualise information on specific public health topics, so it can be made available to the EIOS community of experts across the globe. 

The WHO says the system picked up the first article relating to Covid-19 at the end of December, and by mid-March was collating over 120 000 articles on the outbreak a day.

Amazon Web Services said it is now helping the WHO to develop a tool to enable the global health body to collect and analyse high volumes of Covid-19 related content from around the globe even more effectively.

The tool will use machine learning to help differentiate between "reliable" and "unreliable" content and will make information easier for the expert community to find and assess.

“This is where we are really seeing the power of AWS,” Mariano said.

Traffic to the WHO website has increased almost eightfold since the beginning of the year as more and more medical professionals, and members of the public, look for reliable, expert-led information on the coronavirus outbreak.

Amazon Web Services says it is providing the WHO with increased computational capacity to help it scale rapidly and cope with this surge in demand, to ensure users around the world can access the website at any time.

OpenWHO is the WHO’s interactive online platform, where front line responders – including healthcare professionals – anywhere in the world, can access a huge catalogue of training courses on dealing with health emergencies.

While the WHO has quickly made courses about the coronavirus outbreak available, the challenge remains to make the content, which is primarily video, available to more users by offering it in multiple languages.

Amazon Web Services is also working on providing machine learning and media services to facilitate and speed up the production of this learning material, in different languages, with the aim of helping to reduce the turnaround time on each piece of content from a few days, to a couple of hours.

AWS and Amazon are also providing fundraising support to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO.

African News Agency (ANA)

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