The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday, April 13, announced the launch of the Liberia COVID-19 Rapid Assessment System (RAS), a public health tool to enable Liberians to assess their symptoms, while allowing MOH and NPHIL to collect real-time information on potential COVID-19 cases nationwide.
According to a release, NPHIL urges all members of the public who wish to check if their symptoms match COVID-19 to dial *747*19# on the Lonestar Cell MTN network. The RAS is provided free of charge to the public; no phone credit will be deducted for anyone who uses the service.
The tool was developed by a team led by Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director General of NPHIL in collaboration with the Private Sector Engagement Committee. The RAS software platform was built by Cookshop Food Services, Inc. (Cookshop.biz), a Liberian tech company that has a track record of developing advanced software solutions for the local market since 2014. The RAS utilizes USSD services provided by Lonestar Cell MTN which make it easily accessible across the country through their nationwide GSM network.
According to Dr. Fallah “The IMS teams are collaborating quickly to develop solutions like the RAS that allow us to track and reduce infection rates on a large scale.” Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health of the Republic of Liberia, also stated, “This will expand our ability to gather information about the outbreak and save many lives”.
The RAS was designed to address the need for an easy to access tool for members of the public to quickly assess their symptoms which will aid in the reduction of the spread of COVID-19 in Liberia. The system also meets the need for a simple tool for public health response teams to conduct contact tracing and case assessment without dependence on expensive devices that require access to the internet. Anyone with a simple mobile phone within range of a mobile network will be able to use the system with no data or airtime required.