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Bihar Leveraging Digital Technology to Fight with COVID-19

Since the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, Government of Bihar has been proactive in responding to this global crisis and has undertaken several initiatives including introduction of innovative solutions for identification of suspected cases, rigorous testing high-risk population and isolating COVID-19 positive cases to minimize disease transmission. It is equally important that the health system is able to quickly triage and potentially screen high-risk populations to identify transmission pockets and take necessary appropriate measures swiftly and timely.

The fight against COVID-19 in India as well as in Bihar is always been a challenge due to poor community awareness about symptoms, warning sign and when to seek care, sub optimal adherence to COVID appropriate behavior and quarantine protocols. Ministry has issued guideline for pediatric COVID Management whose implementation at the field level is a bigger challenge considering the scarcity of resources for the state of Bihar.

Under the approved objective on innovation, Norway India Partnership Initiative is supporting the state NHM in identify COVID-19 suspect cases by deploying solutions and thus limiting the transmission. NIPI has developed a user friendly tool in the form of a Swasthya Mitra Chatbot for screening of suspected COVID-19 cases among pediatric population based on a minimal set of inputs related to health status of a child. This smart-device based tool can be used by frontline health workers in community settings.

Pediatric COVID 19 Chatbot is a user friendly technology which can support in timely identification of high risk Paediatric cases and subsequent solution for the classification and facilitation of the clinical decisions, provision of Pre referral managements.

NIPI is supporting the State Health Society Bihar in piloting the Chatbot in two aspirational districts of Nawada and Muzaffarpur. In NIPI team visited both districts on 21st January 2022 to understand the local context and feasibility, readiness of health workers, and availability of smart phone/devices and to understand that how comfortable field level workers (FLWs) are to use this, to undertake the pilot.

In both districts CHOs, ANM and ASHAs found the chatbot very useful for timely identification and management of COVID 19 pediatrics cases. The CHOs and ANMs in both districts have the essentially required smart Phones and tablets. As far as the community worker ASHA is concerned, she needs to be equipped with a smart device and the Hindi version of the chatbot if she is to use it. The application should be in an app form which would be easier to operate. It was decided that at this point the application may be more useful for CHOs at the health and Wellness centers.