Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Pacific doctors combat Coronavirus ‘misinfodemic’ through Facebook chatbot

Dr Canaan Aumua is one of three Pacific doctors delivering Covid-19 advise through the online chatbot.

Source: Ark Health Discovery

Three Pacific doctors have targeted the global COVID-19 outbreak with a Facebook Messenger (@ArkHealthDiscovery) solution they call Āmio; a FREE chatbot to deliver equitable access to accurate health information in both English and Mandarin.

Āmio means “to travel around” in Te Reo Māori, and he does exactly that on social media to combat the growing misinfodemic [online misinformation] and hysteria that has taken New Zealand by storm.

Created by makers of the world’s first Measles chatbot, doctors Canaan Aumua, Cole Rudolph and Sanjeev Krishna say Āmio is an innovative and additional resource to existing public health efforts like Healthline, which is currently under immense pressure.

Like doctors and nurses, he [Āmio] can help triage individuals based on their travel history and symptoms to determine whether testing or isolation measures are necessary.

“In the way that Measles put a strain on the health system, we knew COVID-19 could do the same, if not worse. Āmio was a way we could achieve our goal of breaking down barriers to access and help support our colleagues in the community and public health services” says Dr Aumua.

Dr Krishna says the ability to message Āmio from any location, at any time of the day or night, provides solutions to increasing fears on the transmission and spread of the disease.

“Āmio delivers trusted and up-to-date information from official health bodies to a mass number of people in real-time, on the run or from the comfort of their own homes.”

The Mandarin component of the chatbot is the first of multiple languages being built into Āmio and is extremely important to the trio, whose core principle is to address issues of inequity and strengthen public health measures.

“It’s important to have an intervention that’s reflective and responsive to New Zealand’s diverse population,” says Dr Rudolph.

Launched on Waitangi Day, Āmio has already had over 15,000 interactions and continues to grow each day as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Āmio can be found through Facebook at @ArkHealthDiscovery. Send a message to the page to start chatting!

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