Kenyan Lecturer Develops App For COVID-19 Contact Tracing


A Kenyan lecturer has come up with an app that can be used for COVID-19 contact tracing, which has become important in this dystopian year.

As described in the University’s post on social media, Dr Tecla Sum, a senior lecturer from Masinde Muliro University’s Emergency Medicine and Paramedical Sciences developed an app called eKonnect that has the ability to carry out seamless COVID-19 contact tracing and other infectious diseases as well as locate and alert the nearest health care facilities and ambulances. Besides tracking infectious diseases, the app can trace to respond to any medical emergency.

According to her, the eKonnect app’s primary goal is to “save the largest number of survivors from COVID-19 pandemic.”

The app is described as:

  • A cloud-based application tool used to strengthen disease surveillance within the health care system.
  • Assisting in the control of infectious diseases through contact- tracing and delivery of optimal health care and improved patient outcome.
  • A system is designed to assist the reduction of mortality cases from various diseases, infections, and its associated healthcare burdens.
  • A tool critical to trace the care processes of the casualties.
  • Besides infectious disease, the parameters in the application will be used in the traceability of patient care in medical emergency situations from the scene of the accident, transportation, definitive care settings, specialized care settings, during discharge, follow up and rehabilitation, and until full recovery of the patient.
  •  a tool to trace and activate ambulances near the scenes of accidents for purposes of achieving the Golden Hour required during emergency services
  •  The demographic characteristics of an individual, ambulance, hospital, healthcare provider are all encrypted in the administrator’s interface (MACS) to ease and fasten traceability

On a phone interview, Dr. Sum confirmed a number of things about the app. She developed it as part of her post-doctoral program in Emergency and Trauma Systems Management last year, way before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. The university already has secured a patent for the app.

The service is scheduled to start a pilot in Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega counties from next week according to Dr. Sum. Her team is targetting a sample size of 10,000 people to test her system.  She says that they will liaise with the Ministry of Health to roll out the app to the entire country after piloting at Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega counties.

It is indeed nice to see local solutions being made to deal with viral infections that would benefit the most using technology. Diseases like COVID-19 have necessitated the need for contact tracing, information gathering, and equipping the nearest health care facilities to transport the affected individuals.

It will be interesting to see how the pilot phase for Dr Sum’s eKonnect app will prevail in the next few weeks as they undertake the process. As of today, Kenya has tested 108,66 people of which 3,305 have been confirmed as positive cases, 1,164 people have recovered and sadly, we have a total of 96 fatalities. We have seen big tech combat COVID-19 using contact tracing like Apple and Google with their Bluetooth based contact tracing system and Facebook with their Disease Prevention Maps.