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KNUST to Develop Mobile App to Enhance Healthcare Access in Remote Ghanaian Communities

Dr. Rose Mary

Disease outbreaks in remote areas of Ghana frequently face delayed or underreporting, largely due to the absence of effective channels for communication with national health authorities. In response to this critical issue, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is developing a mobile application aimed at improving healthcare access for underserved communities.

This mobile application, created under the MESTI mHealth Project, is designed to function both online and offline, ensuring accessibility regardless of internet connectivity. The app is divided into two main sections: one for ordinary Ghanaians and another for medical professionals. This structure allows for the collection of data on disease symptoms from users, which can then be analyzed by medical personnel to enable swift intervention.

Addressing the challenge of language barriers, the app includes a language translation feature to facilitate use by individuals from diverse linguistic backgrounds. In addition to symptom reporting, the app offers capabilities for virtual consultations and emergency care, among other healthcare services.

The app is being jointly developed by the KNUST Colleges of Health Sciences and Science, with financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC-CRDI) through the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) and the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (SGC IOSRS).

At a recent stakeholder consultation, Dr. Rose-Mary Owusuaa Mensah Gyening, the Principal Investigator of the project, emphasized the app’s alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 3, which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. "If we achieve Goal 3, it’ll definitely trickle down to the other goals. We want to ensure a healthy life for all, especially marginalized communities," she stated.

Dr. Emmanuel Ahene, Co-Investigator, highlighted the app’s target audience, noting, "In almost every region in Ghana, you’d realize that there are people who have limited access to healthcare, and they are our target."

KNUST Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mrs. Rita Akosua Dickson, urged the scientists involved to collaborate with other colleges to integrate a sociological perspective into the project, ensuring it comprehensively addresses the needs of the communities it aims to serve.

This innovative initiative by KNUST represents a significant advancement in the effort to improve healthcare delivery in Ghana, particularly in remote and underserved areas, potentially transforming the way disease outbreaks are reported and managed, thus enhancing health outcomes for many marginalized populations.