• Speak easy

    Speak easy

    In South Africa, a locally developed mobile app is being piloted to help patients and healthcare providers overcome language barriers during COVID-19-related screening and triage.

    The AwezaMed COVID-19 mobile app enables users to translate their phrases from English into any of the country’s 11 official languages via the use of speech-recognition technology, machine translation and text-to-speech capabilities. This enables better communication with patients in their mother tongue.

    Though originally designed for maternal healthcare, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and local tech-based initiative Aweza have partnered to enhance the application with coronavirus-related content.

    ‘By bridging the communication barrier, the trust relationship between the healthcare provider and patient can be improved,’ says Karen Calteaux, CSIR Digital Audio-Visual Technologies Research group leader. ‘In addition, the patient’s experience and the healthcare provider-patient confidentiality can be improved, and lives can possibly be saved.’

    The expanded app is available for free download from the Google Play Store alongside the original version, AwezaMed 3.0, which is also in the pilot stage.

    27 October 2020
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images