Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in association with software developer Pixel Impact has launched a new app that encourages people to behave safely if someone in their family or community catches COVID-19.
Taking the form of an interactive quiz challenge, users of the COVID Challenge app are presented with a range of colourfully illustrated scenarios and given a choice of ways to respond. The topics covered are practical and wide-ranging, including how to interact with someone with COVID symptoms, how to share a bathroom when self-isolating, and how to handle food to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
The app is available for both Android and IOS systems and is free to use; once downloaded it can be played offline, making it accessible to people with no regular internet connection.
“We hope to attract a young, tech-savvy generation of users who will engage with the game as an entertaining challenge and at the same time acquire useful knowledge that will induce changes in behaviour,” says MSF medical innovation coordinator Abiy Tamrat.
The concept for the app came from a quiz challenge game developed by MSF in 2019 during the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo to help patients and their families manage Ebola and to counter misinformation about the disease.
“Misinformation and rumours are also widespread about COVID and our aim with the app is to prevent this,” says Tamrat. “It worked for Ebola and we hope it will work for COVID too.” The health messages presented in the app are based on MSF medical protocols and World Health Organization recommendations.
Tamrat envisages that the COVID Challenge app will be used by families and communities across the 70-plus countries worldwide where MSF works – and beyond. The app is available for both Android and IOS systems and is free to use; once downloaded it can be played offline, making it accessible to people with no regular internet connection.
One feature on the app reads the quiz questions out loud, so it can be used by people with a visual impairment or who cannot read. Currently it is available in English, French, Arabic and Spanish, and there are plans to introduce additional languages.
MSF is a global network of principled medical and other professionals working in teams, small and large, to respond to the medical needs of people affected by conflict, disasters and epidemics and those excluded from healthcare. Its actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality.