Noora Health launches WhatsApp bot
HealthAlert service that allows people to
Partnering with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), During the Covid-19 pandemic Noora Health launched the WhatsApp bot that was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to make people aware of the pandemic and increase appropriate Covid-19 behaviors.
Noora Health adapted the Care Companion Program (CCP) to support Covid-19 positive patients and their families and caregivers with mobile-based services, including home isolation guidance, training on healthy behaviors for patients, caregivers, and their family members, mental health support, emergency preparedness, and much more.
Noora Health, a U.S. registered non-profit organization began its journey in Bangladesh two years ago in early 2020.
To support the health ministry's effort to reduce infection rates, Noora Health used the power of remote technology.
Noora Health supports implementation of the CCP in hospitals in order to educate and equip patient care givers and family members with the skill to take care of their loved ones. But during the upsurge of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, providing in-person support was nearly impossible. With a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Noora Health and the DGHS, Noora Health initiated live phone calls - what they called "teletraining" - by training hundreds of telephone-based trainers over the time. This is an interactive, empathetic health educational training focused on reinforcing healthy habits among the community to respond to end the pandemic. Since early 2021, this program has trained over 76,000 family members across Bangladesh.
According to Shahrin Richi, a former senior telephone trainer and program associate, there were several challenges to reach out to the Covid-19 patients initially. These patients and their family members did not trust the telephone trainers during their sessions in the early stages. Often, they would refuse to respond to the phone calls, confirm their identities, and listen to what the trainers were trying to say. In addition, some of the patients used to be medical professionals, who would also refuse to listen to the trainers. As the training sessions typically take approximately 30 minutes to complete, many patients would become impatient or distracted. However, Ms Richi adds that the key to making the patients or their caregivers engage is to inspire them to feel connected through the voice, creating an environment of respect, trust, and comfort.
Dr Afreena Mahmud, the Director, Planning and Research department of DGHS, believes that Noora Health supported the government effort to contain the pandemic in an effective and most compassionate way. She said, "We didn't think in the first place that people would welcome the calls, which are not related to telemedicine, but eventually it turned out that they felt honored, cared for, and expressed their satisfaction. We thank Noora Health for improving the trust and confidence of the people toward the health service delivery of our country."
Dr A J Faisel, a public health expert, said, "This is a unique service delivered at the family level on behalf of DGHS to boost up the mental status of the home-isolated people at this difficult time and it was mostly needed."
This year, Noora Health received the Skoll Foundation Award for Social Innovation and received global recognition for this noble project along with all its other public health initiatives. This trailblazing idea to introduce noteworthy initiatives to bring significant changes in the public health sector was named a 2022 Audacious Project Grantee.