This Telehealth Startup Is Providing Medical Info To Underserved Africans

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar
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You may have heard of Sila Health before. The health startup partnered with Bulawayo’s City Council to launch a mobile app that provides Covid-19 information.

The startup is helping the council to disseminate info on COVID-19 via chat bots. Users of the chat bot can also access a symptom checker and more impressively they can access geographic and human network for cases identified as potential positives to assist in contact tracing.

Outside of the COVID-19 chat functions – Sis Joyce (that’s the name of the bot) also provides information medical advice based on symptoms given by users.

Sila Health launched the MVP for their chatbot back in August of 2019 and back then it was making use of Google Spreadsheets to identify and answer a “limited range of questions related to sexual health”.

Millions of Africans struggle with accessing basic health and medical care through traditional methods and yet internet penetration on the continent is growing at a faster rate than elsewhere in the world with social media uptake growing at an even faster pace.

Sila Health insight

Due to a higher interest in the chatbot than Sila anticipated they then developed a market ready platform using platform using a custom-built keyword extraction model that routes user queries to modules from sites like Wikimedia to match terms. The chatbot now also uses a low-level Natural Language Processing model as part of their symptom triage.

At the time of writing, Sila Health’s platforms have facilitated exchange of over half a million messages and provided access to basic healthcare to 20 000 users in 50 different countries.


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  1. Dr Hurungudo

    This Telehealth Startup Is Providing Medical Info To Underserved Africans

    Quite condescending. But why in a TECHZIM media product such as yours?

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      Hi Dr, that was not my intention at all when titling the article. Apologies